Have you ever used or seen emoji (emojicons) used on Japanese cellphones?  The iPhone has supported it for quite awhile, but now with a new release a popular SMS app, emoji can be used on Android phones.  Here is some examples of the new application in action on the Android powered Droid2.

Entering Emoji in Handcent SMS on Android

Emoji Options on Handcent SMS on AndroidWith the 3.7 release Handcent SMS, now supports sending emoji to other devices such as the iPhone and other Softbank compatible devices.

What are Emoji?

It is the usage of pictographs to convey various messages instead of words.  You can find more information the Wikipedia page for emoji or a list of Unicode emoji characters.   I have been waiting for a good emoji SMS app for awhile, and I’m glad to see Handcent once again leading the way.  To me, it seems like emoji is a localized evolution of the deprecated Enhanced Message Service (EMS) standard which used to be on many phones, but has largely been replaced with Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS).  Emoji is an SMS message which is a specific encoding value to be interpreted by a receiving phone to display the pictograph.   As emoticons are used in IM chats,  emoji can also convey information quickly compared having to write it all out with text.  The iPhone implementation of Emoji is similar, but has some differences from the other deployed implementations.  The obvious exclusion is that the iPhone encoding does not support animated Emoji, as you can find on some of the other carriers.  The Handcent implementation pretty much matches the characters you will find on the iPhone

How do I use Emoji on Android phones?

You will need to download the free emoji plugin for Handcent (Links at bottom of post) on the marketplace after you download the 3.7 update.

You can see the Handcent application with the emoji in action below:

Demonstrating emoji on Android using Handcent SMS

You can also set the default emoji encoding method to iPhone/Softbank which should work on most carriers (It worked on Verizon for me), but it also allows setting to Handcent encoding which can be sent to other Handcent users.  This can also be set on a per contact basis if you have some contacts user one encoding over the other.

Emoji Encoding options for Handcent SMS on AndroidEmoji in Handcent SMS on Android

So are you excited about Emoji?  Or am I the only 30 something who really cares?   It’s fun, but not sure how practical usage is on a daily basis.  emoji is supported on other phone manufacturers such as Nokia and Samsung, but it’s mostly used in Japan.   However,  Google and other companies  are working on getting emoji added to the unicode standard, so it might be more prevalent in the near future in the standard keyboard.

If you need to know how to enable it on an iPhone,  please follow this link to this post.

An interesting read entitled “The Truth about iPhone Emoji” goes into the compatibility issues until emoji is a unicode standard.

Update 1/31/2010:

It appears there are some carrier limitations with the iPhone recipients as posted by the developer on the AppBrain description:
Because US carrier disable some characters that isn’t ASCII,so if you aren’t using AT&T andorid phone,you can’t send emoji to AT&T iphone. but you can send emoji to all android phones to ALL carrier’s android phone if they instaled handcent + emoji plugin ,just change the encoding option at “settings”->”application settings”->emoji encoding settings to “Handcent”.



when Verizon iphone relesed ,Verizon & TMobile user can send emoji to Verizon iphone directly without change any option

So with the iPhone coming to Verizon in a few weeks,  it looks like it will start open up functionality between devices.

Update 2012-07-26:

It looks like Emoji is making it’s way as an Add-on Dictionary for the default keyboard  in the Jelly Bean (4.1) release of Android as reported here:


This would make it universally available to Android applications, and not just dependent on the individual applications to support.