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W0CHP Ham Radio & Tech Musings

Company Emojis Suck

Various software companies are defeating the entire purpose of the emoji concept. What prompted this article, was that Apple and other large software companies, finally implemented the long-awaited Unicode 1F6FB emoji released in Unicode 13.0 – and in seeing the various companies varied implementations, I felt compelled to write this article.

Anyway, this rant is not ham-related (yet); It’s only a matter of time before emojis somehow find their way into ham radio. But the fragmentation and abuse of open standards exist in both ham radio, and software, and it’s only getting worse.

“WTF is Unicode 1F6FB?”

Wait, you ignorant hams, incorrectly using the slashed-Oh character don’t know Unicode 1F6FB by heart?! The shock! Not really. You’re poseurs. But I digress…

The 1F6FB Unicode character, is the pickup truck – an extremely popular vehicle here in the USA. Pickup trucks are everywhere, and are akin to apple pie and hot dogs in the States.

Emojis are managed by the Unicode Consortium. The Unicode Standard itself, is exactly that…a fucking standard.

“WTF is the Unicode Standard?”

Let’s dig into the definition of the Unicode Standard, defined by Wikipedia (with bold emphasis added):

Unicode is an information technology (IT) standard for the consistent encoding, representation, and handling of text expressed in most of the world’s writing systems.


Now, with the emphasis on “consistent encoding, representation […]” part of the definition, lets see what kind of stewards of the standard major software companies are… Here are the representations of Unicode 1F6FB by the major players:

Company Emojis Suck Ass!

(Image Source)

Are those companies implementations and representations of a standard, consistent? Not even close. And Apple’s representation looks like fucking balls…It’s an abomination. Hell, at least the other major players' renderings are somewhat consistent, but of course Apple has to stand out, for only Apple users. I’ve always appreciated Apple’s “think different” ethos, but come-the-fuck on, Apple - you guys have been really sucking ass since Jobs passed away. Anyway… Suppose an Android user, with a halfway decent pickup emoji, send the emoji to an Apple user…that weird-looking blue thing is what the Apple user sees. It’s simply inconsistent. And it sucks for all users.

Abuse of Standards

Anyway, you can visually see my point here. Just like fragmented and abused standards in ham radio, it’s in software (and many other places) too. This results in a less enjoyable and inconsistent user experience.

Worse, these various emoji implementations and representations of pickup trucks, and other emojis, are copyrighted, propagating further inconsistencies and misinterpretations of emojis in various mediums. Apple’s and Google’s renderings of a pickup truck are entirely different, which completely defeats the purpose of Unicode, and just standards in general.

OpenMoji to the Rescue

OpenMoji’s mantra, is clear, consistent and open (source) emojis. From the proverbial horse’s mouth:

Unfortunately, the creative variety of emoji has been rather limited so far, especially when compared to the incredible number of available fonts. At the moment, there is only a dozen emoji sets, most of them from big tech companies. These emoji are visually adapted to the respective appearance of their software platforms. In addition, the usage rights are often very restrictive (e.g. the terms of use of Apple' emoji).

That is why we have developed OpenMoji as the first open source and independent emoji system to date. When designing the OpenMoji system, we have developed visual guidelines that are not linked to a specific branding. In addition, our goal was to design emojis that integrate well in combination with text.

OpenMoji has lofty and common-sense goals, with the important one being to improve consistency across platforms. Another goal being, that vehicles should look like real-world models, and “non-toyish”. Bingo! Does Apple’s pickup truck emoji above look non-toyish and like a real-world model? Nope.

Now compare Apple’s shitty (and copyright-encumbered) pickup truck emoji representation, to that of OpenMoji’s:

Now THAT is a fucking pickup truck.

(Image Source)

It even has four doors, and much to the chagrin of inferiority complex-laden boys who commonly state that 4-door pickups are “not real trucks”; proving OpenMoji’s implementation of real-world accuracy, identifiable and consistent representation…being that 4-door pickup likely enjoys the largest market share of pickups sold to non-fleet customers.

Best part of OpenMoji? It’s Open Source and free to use and distribute.

So What Can Be Done?

I almost never bitch and moan about something that needs change or presents a problem, without proposing a solution(s). It’s problem-solving 101, and one thing I don’t miss about the corporate world and idiots I’ve been subjected to within, are the useless and inept coward(ess)s who raise a stink about a problem, yet offer no solutions nor get their own hands dirty. Not my style. Anyway…

It’s a tall order for the major tech and software companies to embrace and use/contribute to a wonderful project and set of goals such as OpenMojis.

However, any tech-head out there with any industry clout, known for evangelizing and influencing the industry1 may want to let the “Big Tech” industry know, that they can stop reinventing the wheel, plus, be kind to standards and users alike. OpenMoji’s representations simply look better than Big Tech’s shitty emoji implementations anyway, and Big Tech can help make the OpenMoji project even better.

With all the marketing and design wank that goes on in Big Tech, they will never take initiative and stop deviating from standards on their own. It takes folks with a voice and clout to help guide and hopefully influence them.

  1. I go back quite a ways with the venerable, super-sharp and super-nice Chris Messina (the brainchild/inventor of the hashtag). He’s got the kind of industry influence and clout I’m talking about above. And Chris, if you’re reading this…let’s catch up! ↩︎