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Soon all Android users will be able to see the latest emoji, sort of
Now, there are plenty of differences between various Android versions. You might think that the most important ones are the core features or the number of security fixes, but you would be wrong. Obviously, the most notable difference between Android versions is the emoji catalog.
Back at Google I/O, the search giant announced that Android O will come with support for Emoji 5.0, which adds a huge number of new pictograms for us to use. However, if you’re running an older Android version, when someone sends you one of those new images, you will be presented with a small empty box instead.
However, Google has just introduced a solution to that life-threatening problem. The EmojiCompat library for Android will allow developers to keep their emoji-related experiences consistent across the majority of Android devices. The library works with Android 4.4 KitKat and above, and it’s meant to detect incompatible emoji and replace them with the appropriate picture. The way we see it, it’s something like Google Translate for emoji – you put an incompatible string of characters in one end and a fully-working smiley face comes out of the other.
The problem is that the EmojiCompat process will not be a core function of Android. Instead, developers will have to implement it into their apps individually. This means that you might be able to see the new Zombie emoji in one app, but receive an empty box in its place in another.
As much as we think that EmojiCompat is actually a good thing, we can’t help but think about how confusing it will be. Most average users are not familiar with how emoji work, so there are bound to be questions why one messaging app supports the Mage emoji, but another one doesn’t. We can only hope that the majority of developers around the globe will decide to utilize this new library.
There is also the question of whether users running older Android versions will also be able to send the newer emoji. Would it just be a matter of having the right keyboard, the correct app, or we just won’t have the chance to send the Colbert emoji unless we upgrade to Android O? The third option sounds the most likely one even if it’s also the least appealing.