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By Jason Snell for Macworld
I don’t know when I first noticed emoji. I probably assumed they were just another way for software to convert text-based emoticons into actual images, a feature I first saw in iChat on the Mac. But eventually I discovered that there was an entire catalog of iconography that was being used as part of Internet communication, and not too long after that, I came to embrace it. Like ASCII smileys before them, emoji add expressiveness to text chat, and that’s a good thing.
Apple has embraced emoji, too. With the release of iOS 9.1 and OS X 10.11.1, which added 184 new emoji symbols, Apple’s devices now feature every single emoji in the Unicode standard. Not only is someone at Apple making sure that it’s on top of the emoji world, but the art direction of Apple’s emoji is superb.
It’s a little-known fact: Every operating system and website can render emoji images in entirely different ways. If you’ve ever seen an emoji on one of Google’s services and wondered why it looked really weird, that’s because Google’s emoji designs are its own, as are Microsoft’s and Twitter’s and Facebook’s. The variation can be extreme, even with relatively simple images.