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.

  • Have Emoji (Japanese keyboard) enabled on iPhone and have the emoji plugin on the Droid and set to iphone/softbank yet when sending text messages they do not appear on the other phone. Can't seem to figure out why… any ideas?

    • Jef

      I just grabbed my ATT iPhone 3gs last night and charged it (it sits in a drawer usually). I see what you mean, I can't receive SMS' with Emoji on it when sent from a Verizon phone. I'll do some research.

      I see people have been able to successfully send to iPhones. If you switch the encoding of Emoji from Iphone/Softbank to Handcent the text code is sent, but in iPhone mode I have not been lucky

    • Jef


      It looks like there are some inter-carrier issues with the iPhone. I updated the blog post with the information I found.

  • mike

    can the android evo recieve emoji from at&t iphon?.i can send them but not recieve them.

    • Steve

      same with me, is there a plug in of some sort for my evo so i can recieve emoji?

      • Steve,

        You can use Handcent Emoji in Handcent encoding mode which will send emoji to other Handcent users, but I believe since Sprint doesn’t have the iPhone it can’t use them on their network.


    • Mike,

      It looks like there is some dependency on the iPhone being enabled on your network. I know the Emoji to iPhones didn’t work until Verizon enabled the iPhone on it’s network for me.

      It’s always worked with Android to Android as long as they were using Handcent though.

      Since Sprint doesn’t have the iPhone on it’s network, it could be an issue with them.


  • CMoney

    I’ve noticed though that I can send them if my settings are on I Phone and receive them if my settings are on Handcent… Weird!

    • Jef

      Wow, that seems so counter intuitive. Maybe the Handcent mode is smart enough to convert them?

      Good find though! So, what you are saying is if you are on Sprint use Handcent mode and you can receive from iPhones? But you have to switch it to iPhone mode to send it?

      You can also set the Mode on a per contact basis, so if you have someone you know is on an iPhone, you can specifically set their contact to that mode.

  • beautiful

    i have the evo and i still cant see emojis being sent to me

    • abblecheung88

      I have the same problem…sending to iPhone without any problems but cannot view any of them if sending back from an iPhone…

      • LCP1709

        @abblecheung88 I have the same problem. Did you find out what to do?

      • LCP1709

        @abblecheung88 I have the same problem. Did you find out what to do?

      • @abblecheung88 I have the same problem. Did you find out what to do?

  • Christine

    I'm not an iphone user but I had lived in Japan and I'm sure Emoji will be our next step for a more universal form of communication. I am so sure of that that I wrote a papper for a science congress. An interesting reading is Pierre Lévy: L'ideographie dynamique. Keep trying to make it work. I hope for a more democractic industry that really thinks globally.

  • Gunda

    Handscent helped me to decode from iphone to adroid,

  • abyylynn

    in the video where you can easily just check emoji my doesnt show up, what is wrong with my droid!?

    is there something else i have to add to get the emoji app to show up?

  • Jef

    @abyylynn Be sure that you have downloaded and installed the Handcent Emoji on android market plugin first, then you should should Emoji under the Smileys menu.

    Here is the link on the market: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.handcent.plugin.emoji&feature=search_result

  • abyylynn

    @Jef I do already have that downloaded :/

  • Oh, that’s great! Emojicons sounds new to me and I love the graphic smileys. This is good for all the iphone and android phone users.

  • bevlougher

    I am trying to use emojicons with viber and andriod, not succeeding, any suggestions? can it be done?

    • tiny_25

      @bevlougher i have the same problem, i am trying to use it on viber. My sister have iphone, and i have android, so she send me emojicons but i can’t see them.

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  • melloone

    im trying to use emoji on my android cricket phone but its complicated to read message when it has a bunch of squares

  • BrittGOAL14

    Emoji on Mobile AIM? Is it possible?

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  • I have problems to use Emoji on my phone 🙁

  • tammylee4

    YAYYY!!!  This worked for me!  I have an samsung optimus droid and my sister has an iphone.  She has Emoji installed.  I tried several aps to allow me to see her emoji and her to see mine but none worked until this one.  I followed the directions above and YAYYYY!  thank you

  • NessasTrublisss

    I can see emoji when i send them just not when i recieve them

  • jenw516

    What is the app called? I want to use emojis on my iPhone to send to android so they can see them! Help!

  • jenw516

    What is the app called? I want to use emojis on my iPhone to send to android so they can see them! Help!

  • jenw516

    What is the app called? I want to use emojis on my iPhone to send to android so they can see them! Help!

  • I think they’re just the same as the emoticons we’re used to, it’s just they have a very distinct Japanese character.

  • I think they’re just the same as the emoticons we’re used to, it’s just they have a very distinct Japanese character.

  • I think they’re just the same as the emoticons we’re used to, it’s just they have a very distinct Japanese character.

  • I think they’re just the same as the emoticons we’re used to, it’s just they have a very distinct Japanese character.

  • YvonneKingDeMary

    OK i have this app, I see the smiley’s christmas tree’s ect…. but I can’t get them to go in a message or in a status. What Am I doing wrong???

  • kendra

    my boyfriend has the moto x and i have the iphone. i can see his emojis but he cant see mine??

  • Kendra

    i habe an iphone and my boyfriend has a motorola X. i can see his emojis but he cant see mine. what can i do?

    • Jef

      By chance are either of you on US cellular, and the other on a different carrier?