iPhone Emoji Are The Worst (And Here’s Proof)


iPhone Emoji Are The Worst (And Here's Proof)

iPhone emoji with other emoji.
Joe Fedewa

Each platform has its own unique emoji design language. Of course, some of these designs are better than others. For a company known for its attention to design, Apple’s iPhone emojis are surprisingly ugly. I’ll prove it to you.

When we talk about design, we’re talking about something that is inherently subjective. However, design trends, especially in software, tend to follow what the general public finds appealing. In the case of Emoji, Apple is left with a dated aesthetic.

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Why do emojis look different?

Before I jump in, let’s talk about why there is such a thing as an “iPhone emoji” in the first place. Emoji are created by the Unicode Consortium and are part of the “Unicode” standard. Put simply, the consortium decides which emojis should exist, and these can then be used by anyone who wants to include emojis in their software.

Here’s the catch: the consortium doesn’t actually design the emoji. It provides a basic description and some reference icons, but it’s up to the “vendors” to create the final designs. Apple is one of those vendors, along with Google, Microsoft, Samsung, and many other companies.

All of this is why emoji on iOS and iPadOS look different than emoji on Google Pixel phones, Samsung Galaxy phones and even web platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Everyone has their own style that suits their software.

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iPhone emoji are outdated

Like many aspects of software, emoji designs have changed dramatically over the years on most platforms. For example, let’s see how Google’s Grinning Face emoji evolved.

Google Grinning Face Emoji.

While all iterations have an overall “flatness,” they’ve changed significantly in the newer version of Android. Let’s look at Microsoft’s emojis for Windows, which have changed even more.

Microsoft smiley face emoji.

Here we can see some pretty big changes. Windows 8 emojis weren’t even in color, then the mouth shape and colors changed a few times until we have the very modern looking Windows 11 emoji.

Okay, enough with everyone else, let’s take a look at how Apple’s grinning face emoji has been updated over the years.

iPhone grinning face emoji.

As you can see, the changes are extremely subtle. Many people may not even be able to tell the differences. iOS 6 has been released 10 years ago and the emoji looks essentially the same today.

You’ll find that this is the case for many of the original 90 emoji that came with iOS 2.2, the first version to support them. Many are simply higher resolution than 10 years ago, the design is identical.

Not so timeless design

iPhone emojis.
Can you tell which side is newer?

That Apple hasn’t really updated the design of its emojis over the years isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some design language is timeless. However, apple White Its design isn’t timeless: just look to iOS and iPad OS for proof.

iOS 15.5 looks drastically different than iOS 6. That old skeuomorphic design hasn’t aged well. Apple started moving away from that back in 2013 with iOS 7. However, the emojis are lagging behind. They retain the high-gloss 3D look that was so prevalent in the early iPhone era.

That’s what strikes me as odd about Apple’s emoji. iOS and iPad OS have a clean, modern design that goes well with current UI trends. Apple is at the forefront of design trends in many areas. Why have emoji remained largely untouched while every other area of ​​Apple’s software has undergone such drastic changes?

I enjoy many things about the iPhone. Apple’s attention to detail is evident in many places and I really appreciate it. I just wish the emoji would reflect that too. It’s high time you got your emoji out of the Middle Ages, Apple.

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