What you see on iPhone, Mac, and iPad is not the same as those used on Twitter, or Google, or Android, or Windows or wherever. Some are obvious. Smiley face comes to mind. So does the pile of poop. Otherwise, I need a cheat sheet to make sure I’m not sending a snotty and snarky remark to someone who could do me harm.
Last week I came across Matthew Palmer’s Rocket app. It’s a free emoji app that’s billed as a Slack-style emoji that can run anywhere on your Mac.
First, it has to do with Slack, the team communication website and service (it has a Pricing Guide so you know they’re a serious company), and the folks that use mostly Apple emoji images but with options to use others. As you type, relevant emoji’s take the place of real words. That’s how I found out about Emojipedia, kind of the go-to place to learn about various emoji.
What Rocket does is not quite what emojis in my iPhone’s Messages app does, but seemingly for more advanced users, or those like me, who want to try out something all the cool kids must be using.
Rocket lets you type and as you type specific words, preceded by a trigger character (default is the colon : ), with emoji counterparts then change to, well, emojis.
But you still have to know the emoji counterparts so the word triggers the emoji and therein lies the problem real adults have with modern communication methods.
Apple’s Messages app on the iPhone and iPad help. Type whatever message you want, then hit the emoji keyboard and any words with emoji counterparts change accordingly. That’s handy. But, to get all the emojis you kinda sorta mostly need to know what words match which emojis in the first place.
In the end, I find myself spending more time typing out a message and trying to insert a specific emoji for emphasis than it would if I called someone up on the phone and simply said, “Smiley Face.” Or, “Poop!”
Apple could fix that by building something similar to Rocket into the macOS or iOS system keyboard, Apple centric, of course, but a function that would let us just type whatever and the appropriate emoji would appear magically, and a hover or point to the emoji would bring a pop up to the screen so we would know what we just wrote in emoji (assumes we already know what we wrote in English).
Listen, emoji are cute, and they are form of communication, but more for emphasis than real time conversation, and there needs to be a built-in method that translates the emoji back to my native tongue.