They have earned their place in chat conversations and we take the opportunity to put them even in emails, but Emojis are not just a simple funny-looking emoticon: actually what we send through the phone are character codes; that each device or application will represent as it pleases. Yes: the same Emoji can be very different from one mobile to another. And that is where part of its magic lies.
No self-respecting WhatsApp, Telegram or Facebook Messenger chat is exempt from some 😃, from that mischievous personalized wink in the 😉 or from the always welcome 💩 of annoyance. They have become so universal that they even star in movies: Emojis evolved the representation of emotions through characters until they became small drawings so comfortable to attach to texts that one of these emoticons often says more than a thousand words. In fact, you may think that by sending an Emoji the other person will see it exactly the same as how you perceive it. But it could be not.
The graphic style of the Emojis is completely free
Emojis are part of Unicode, the international standard responsible for supporting the entire set of characters used in any printed text or code (on paper or on screen). Every year Unicode selects a list of new Emojis that will add to the already extensive collection of emoticons. And, despite the fact that the standard itself creates a graphic representation of each Emoji, it is the other companies that adapt that style to their respective environments.
Each Emoji created by Unicode offers a specific emotion, object, action… that serve as a style guide for companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft or Facebook to adapt them to their own operating systems or applications. And this is the reason why they are not seen in a homogeneous way: although a smiley face or a poop can be seen, the design can vary so much from one mobile to another that it is capable of transmitting contradictory sensations.
Usually messaging apps like WhatsApp or Telegram adopt Apple Emojis: sending the emoticons through those apps, they will look the same regardless of the device. Quite the opposite of what happens with SMS, email or Twitter, for example: the graphic style will depend on the operating system that equips the phone.
In the text box where we enter the Emoji to send, a drawing appears in the form of an icon; that the person to whom we send said Emoji will receive. This apparent exchange of images is not so, since, in reality, we do not send a drawing: What is transmitted to the network is the character code that identifies the specific Emoji in the catalog of emoticons installed on the phone. And if the other person does not have that Emoji, a square with a cross (or strange characters in the form of Japanese kanji) will appear.
We do not send an image in the form of an icon: they are characters
Every time we exchange Emojis with any other person, what we do is send a text with a code that identifies each Emoji: Unicode associates the emoticons with references. And, as that reference is received along with the text of the message, it is the application that is responsible for loading the graphic representation that it has installed (and that corresponds to the received characters). It’s like ordering a chocolate cone at an ice cream kiosk: although the name is generic, what the ice cream looks like depends on the manufacturer.