What Are Emoji? 10 Amazing Facts You Didn't Know

Those Tiny Icons Have Come a Long Way Since 1999

emojis

These days, digital communication goes far beyond typing a few words or sentences and clicking Send. Just look at any social network or open your last few text messages to see how many smiley faces, hearts, animals, food, and other image-based characters you can spot. These are emoji.

Those iconic little images are more popular on the internet now than ever before. There are so many of them that Emoji translators are available to help you figure out what they mean. 

Emoji are here to stay as long as we all continue tweeting and texting. Here are a few interesting facts about those crazy, colorful little emoji that prove just how much the world loves them.

01
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Apple Is Credited for Emoji Popularity

texting emojis

 

Artur Debat/Getty Images

Emoji have been around since 1999 when Japanese designer Shigetaka Kurita made the first emoji for cellphones, but they weren't fully embraced by the masses until 2012 when Apple released iOS 6.

iPhone users quickly learned they could activate the emoji keyboard in iOS 6 to add fun smileys and tiny icons in their text messages.

The emoji movement expanded into regular use on all social network sites, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and others.

Apple later introduced animoji, which are animated emoji in 2017. 

Note: The Museum of Modern Art owns and displays Kurita's original set of emoji.

02
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Emoji on Twitter Are Tracked in Real Time

Want to see how many people around the world are tweeting out emoji? You can do that with a tool called Emoji Tracker, described as being "an experiment in real-time visualization" of all emoji found on Twitter.

It constantly updates based on emoji information it pulls from Twitter so that you can see the number count beside each emoji increase right before your eyes. The change is so rapid, the website bears a warning to anyone with sensitivity to rapidly blinking lights.

03
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Emoji Was Added to Oxford Dictionaries in 2013

The emoji craze caught on so rapidly in 2012 and 2013 that it was added as a word by Oxford Dictionaries in August 2013, along with several other strange new words that could only be explained by the internet.

Note: The plural of emoji is emoji, not emojis.

04
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New Emoji Are Announced Regularly

New emoji are being added all the time. In 2017 the Unicode Consortium finalized 69 new ones including a vampire, a genie, a mermaid, and many more.

If your mobile device is still running on an older OS version, you'll want to update it as soon as a new version is released to make sure you get access to all these new and fun emoji.

New emoji are released each year. In 2018, 157 new emoji were added.

05
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Emoji Tattoos Show Up in Odd Places

What's the latest trend in tattoo art? Emoji, of course.

Atlanta Hawks basketball player Mike Scott has not one, not two, but several emoji tattooed on his arms from the looks of the photos posted here on FanSided.

Miley Cyrus also has some ink featuring the sad cat emoji, though a bit more discrete, located on the inside of her lower lip. Is it real? Who knows, but it sure makes a statement.

06
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The Face With Tears of Joy Emoji Is the Most Popular

People seriously love to use the Face With Tears of Joy to express their laughter seeing as how it's the number-one most popular emoji used on Twitter.

The red heart, the heart eyes face, and the pink hearts emoji fall in second, third, and fourth place, respectively, suggesting that people enjoy expressing their love for someone or something online.

07
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A Documentary Sums Up Our Obsession With Emoji

Dissolve.com published a creative short film featuring emoji as the subject of a documentary, inspired by the work and distinct voice of Sir David Attenborough.

The film is less than two minutes long, but it sums up our strange and confusing obsession with emoji quite well. You can watch it online.

08
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People Turn Their Selfies Into Emoji

There are several apps and websites you can use to turn a selfie into a personalized emoji. The Emoji Me Keyboard app, Emoji Me Face Maker app, and other similar apps are available for Android and iOS devices. Google Allo chat transforms your selfies into custom emoji.

09
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Emoji Are Supported Just About Everywhere

Using Twitter on mobile devices has always been popular, but until Twitter finally released emoji support on its web version in 2014, those little icons would show up as blank boxes if you visited Twitter.com on a laptop or desktop computer.

They're not quite identical to the ones you see and type on mobile devices, but they come pretty close, and anything is better than a bunch of boxes filling up your Twitter stream.

For the record, you can now add Emoji keyboards to your Android device, too. So Android users don't have to suffer through those strange square boxes, either. 

10
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Emoji Trivia

It shouldn't be a surprise that the skull emoji is most used in October and the Christmas tree in December, but no one knows why the 100 emoji is so popular in November.

Birthday cake and pizza slices are the most-used food emoji year-round.

The musical notes emoji is the most popular emoji in Brazil and Argentina.

There are more than 2,800 emoji in the Unicode Standard as of ​mid-2018, up from the 176 in the original set of emoji.