Apple Color Emoji

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Apple Color Emoji
Apple Color Emoji sample.png
Category Emoji
Designer(s) Various
Commissioned by Apple Inc.
Also known as Emoji

Apple Color Emoji is a color typeface used by iOS and OS X to display emoji, a series of ideograms originally created by Shigetaka Kurita for use in Japanese mobile phones.[1][2]

The inclusion of emoji in the iPhone and in the Unicode standard has been credited with promoting the spreading use of emoji outside Japan.[3][4][5] Unlike the black & white outline of early emoji, the typeface has full color images for each of the 1407 glyphs it supports.[6] As with many Apple icons past and present, they feature a design based on deep, saturated colors and gradual transitions of color, often incorporating subtle gloss effects.[7][8]


Prior to iOS 5 SoftBank encoding was used for encoding emoji on Apple devices. Beginning with iOS 5, emoji are encoded using the Unicode standard.[9][10] Emoji glyphs are stored as PNG images,[11] at two resolutions using a proprietary "sbix" table.[12][13][11]

The font contains a number of Easter eggs. Several glyphs contain portions of the text of Apple's Think different advertisement ("Here's to the crazy ones..."), including 1F4CB "Clipboard" (๐Ÿ“‹), 1F4C4 "Page facing up" (๐Ÿ“„), 1F4D1 "Bookmark Tabs" (๐Ÿ“‘), and 1F4D6 "Open book" (๐Ÿ“–), among others. Other emoji, specified as generic objects, appear as Apple products. For example, ๐Ÿ’ป (U+1F4BB, 'Personal computer') appears as a modern iMac, while โŒš(U+231A, wristwatch) shows an Apple Watch. ๐ŸŒ(fog) shows the Golden Gate Bridge behind San Francisco fog, a reference to Apple's California headquarters, and 1F4F0 "Newspaper" (๐Ÿ“ฐ)'s headline reads "The Apple Times".

A variety of styles are used, presumably to aid legibility at small sizes. For example ๐Ÿฌand ๐Ÿ™(dolphin and octopus) are quite stylized with 'button' eyes, while ๐Ÿˆand ๐Ÿ€(cat and rat) are more naturalistic, resembling watercolor paintings. This mixture of styles creates a range of possible designs: for example, ๐Ÿand ๐Ÿ‘(ram and sheep) look clearly different, as do ๐Ÿซand ๐Ÿช(Bactrian camel and dromedary). The different designs may also connect to the fact that only some of the aforementioned animals are on the Chinese zodiac.

It has been commented that because the iPhone originally launched in Japan on the SoftBank network, some Apple emoji designs may have been created to resemble those on previous SoftBank phones. For example, ๐Ÿ’ƒ (defined by Unicode as 'dancer' with no specified gender) is female on Apple and SoftBank phones but male or at least gender-neutral on others.[14]

The designers of the Apple Color Emoji typeface have not been publicly credited, following Apple's standard practice of not crediting work to individual developers, and former Apple employees have offered varying comments on who drew what, one calling it a 'perennial' project for interns.[15][16][17] A few were designed, at least in early drafts, by Willem Van Lancker.[14][17][18]


The OS X emoji character palette.

Because of the calendar emoji (๐Ÿ“…) showing July 17, this has been nicknamed World Emoji Day among Apple product users. The date refers to the day Apple premiered its iCal calendar application in 2002.[19]

Because of the increasing popularity and quantity of emoji, a redesigned emoji keyboard was released in iOS version 8.3, this update also added varied skin tones and same-gender couples included in unicode 6.[20] As a result, the more naturalistic emoji faces switch to a neutral yellow skin tone by default, similar to the face emoji.[21]

Commenting on the suggestion that Apple Color Emoji could be the most significant font thus far released in the 21st century, font expert Stephen Coles said the idea was "an interesting one and [it] may prove to be true."[22]

Although primarily intended for onscreen display (iOS having limited printing capabilities), some printed displays and signs have used Apple Color Emoji designs.[23] New York magazine used Apple Color Emoji in a printed feature on the growing use of emoji.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kurita, Nakano, Lee. "Why and how I created emoji". Ignition. Retrieved 16 August 2015. 
  2. ^ Negishi, Mayumi. "Meet Shigetaka Kurita, the Father of Emoji". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 16 August 2015. 
  3. ^ Cipriani, Jason (2013-10-23). "How to access emoji in OS X 10.9 Mavericks". CNET. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  4. ^ "Access and Use Emoji in Mac OS X". 2011-08-20. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  5. ^ Jeff Blagdon (2013-03-04). "How emoji conquered the world". The Verge. Retrieved 2014-07-28. 
  6. ^ a b Sternbergh, Adam. "Smile, Youโ€™re Speaking EMOJI: the rapid evolution of a wordless tongue". New York magazine. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  7. ^ de With, Sebastian. "The Origin of the Inimitable Icons.". Cocoa Blog. Retrieved 1 August 2015. 
  8. ^ Sasser, Cabel. "Twitter post". Twitter. Retrieved 16 August 2015. 
  9. ^ Unicode FAQ: Emoji and Dingbats โ€“ Q: How are emoji encoded in Unicode?
  10. ^ "Supporting iOS 5 New Emoji Encoding". Manbolo Blog. Retrieved 2012-05-22. 
  11. ^ a b Ralf Herrmann (2013-07-03). "Color Emoji in Windows 8.1โ€”The Future of Color Fonts?". Retrieved 2014-07-27. [dead link]
  12. ^ Si Daniels (2012-01-25). "Apple Color Emoji". Typographica. Retrieved 2014-07-27. 
  13. ^ "Unicode 8.0.0". Unicode Consortium. Retrieved 17 June 2015. 
  14. ^ a b Bosker, Bianca. "How Emoji Get Lost In Translation". Huffington Post. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  15. ^ Van Lancker, Willem. "Twitter post". Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  16. ^ Baumann, Laurent. "Twitter post". Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  17. ^ a b Van Os, Marcel. "Twitter post". Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  18. ^ Guzman, Angela. "Twitter post". Twitter. 
  19. ^ Dewey, Caitlin. "Why is July 17 the date on the emoji calendar?". Washington Post. 
  20. ^ "Apple focuses on diversity with new emoji". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2015-04-09. 
  21. ^ Tan, Monica. "Apple adds racially diverse emoji, and they come in five skin shades". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  22. ^ Coles, Stephen. "Comment on Quora". Quora. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  23. ^ "Fonts in Use". Fonts in Use. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 

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