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A vast majority of Android users still don't have the latest emoji

Software updates have always been a major headache for Android users. Frankly, it's a wonder that so many of us have stuck around this long as fragmentation remains a major issue on our beloved mobile platform. Especially considering that the lack of consistent software updates means that there are too many users without the same features that their other Android brethren are using on the regular, like the latest emoji.

You might be wondering: Why does it matter if I have the latest emoji? Well, think of it this way: just because you don't eat croissants doesn't mean there aren't others out there that want their croissant-loving ways recognized as the norm. As Emojipedia rightly points out, despite the fact that Google was the first to introduce more diverse emoji in Unicode 9, including a number representing the working female populace, it has no bragging rights because only 4 percent of Android's users are actually utilizing the new cast of characters. (The data is based on Emojipedia's internal findings.)

Apple, on the other hand, is doing a better job at making its users feel included based on the sheer fact that it controls software updates, thus pushing out those new emoji to a whopping 84 percent of its users. That's a major chunk of people who have access to emoji that represent them! As Emojipedia pleads:

A phone that can't see the 12+ months of new emojis is crippled as a communication device.

Sure, you could use a third-party keyboard app or a messaging platform like WhatsApp to streamline the emoji process on your yet-to-be-updated Android device, but that doesn't help everyone else. There are still 96 percent of Android users out there who can't see the new emoji offered on the platform, and thus, a big chunk of users who aren't seeing themselves represented.

I've been racking my brain on how to fix this problem, but I have no answer for you at the moment. We're still fighting for timely software updates on the Android platform. Emojipedia suggests spending your money where your mouth is, but that's not going to happen here at Android Central as we're all planning to continue wielding Android devices. The best we can do right now is continue to harp on Google on the issues of fragmentation because those who are left behind are not just missing out on new software features and security updates — they're also missing out on feeling represented by their mobile platform.

Florence Ion was formerly an editor and columnist at Android Central. She writes about Android-powered devices of all types and explores their usefulness in her everyday life. You can follow her on Twitter or watch her Tuesday nights on All About Android.

109 Comments
  • 🤔 😵 🖕
  • I'd know which emoji you posted if my phone got regular updates
  • +1
  • Is there an emoji for all of the whiners that complain about emoji? If not, the whiny are not represented. :'(
  • +1
  • 😫😭
  • 🤡🙃🤢
  • I can only see one emoji....😵
  • At this point, emoji should be allowed to be uncoupled from the core system and upgraded through the Play Store. Get everyone on Google emoji and get them updated quicker: 🐦 🐦, one stone emoji
  • I was going to say essentially the same thing, I do not understand why these require an OS update.
  • Or include it in play services
  • This would be so good
  • Agreed. There has to be a better way. However I believe this goes beyond Android, and I don't think Google is willing to break compatibility across devices are they?
  • But I can see people getting confused with hundreds of lookalike apps appear and some of them possibly containing malware.
  • You misunderstand, I mean make the emoji a part of Google Play Services, like so many other core services.
  • If Google keyboard can be it's own app I don't see why emoji couldn't be. Personally don't care, I rarely use emoji, they're all different and confusing compared to when I was in high school, I look at half of them were wondering what they even mean.
  • Maybe cause I find them useless and primitive?
  • This is an article about not having access to the latest emojis, not whether Jonathan finds them useful. Thanks for the input though.
  • I know. I'm saying a full article treating people who don't have the latest emojis like a problem that needs to be resolved is like d of silly. It's far from being an important part of Android.
  • It is important for the millions who really love them.
  • "It's far from being an important part of Android." Try not speaking for everyone, it is fine if you don't find them useful but TONS of people clearly do. Emojis are massively popular, this is an obvious fact, I think the issue is well worth looking at.
  • may be popular, but communicating in a real language has it beat any day. I actually appreciate the messages NOT cluttered with goofy, small and hard to interpret little icons.
  • This isn't an article about codiusprime tearfully professing his love for emojis
  • I never said it was? And I don't particularly care about emojis. I just realize that it matters to many people who might read this website, not that hard.
  • It's one of the more easily quantified examples of Android updates and features that are taking far too long to reach most devices. Replace emoji with night mode or direct reply from Nougat.
  • That's fair. But what if I never use a google device and use the LG keyboard or Samsung keyboard? I can be running 7.1 and still not have those emojis. Doesn't mean I'm not up to date. These numbers assume Android = Google which it doesn't.
  • Being able to type them is seperate from being able to view them. As I understand it you can't view the new emojis if you are not updated. Regardless of what keyboard you use it should matter whether you can view emojis that are sent to you...Well maybe not you specifically, but someone who cares about such things.
  • Actually, I understand better now. Thank you. I thought it was only about typing them. Yes, it's an issue if you can't even see them.
  • Night mode! Now you're talking....!
  • 😮🙄🤡💔🦅🇺🇸
  • Simple: Humans stop buying phones that get abandoned by their OEM.
  • Okay... *Walks into Apple store*
  • That or Google, pretty much how I look at it for now.
  • Good luck with that. Even Google only supports their phones for 2 years. Lots of friends and family would be glad to have a 2-year-old hand-me-down phone, but not if it means they see X boxes in all their conversations.
  • I'd like them to go longer, but for now it's still the best in the business not counting Apple.
  • They say 2 years on paper so that is what you should expect but they have gone longer. Just look at the Nexus 6 (not 6P). It just got 7.1.1 :)
  • Sucks that it is so scattered.
  • Does anyone really care?
    I for one wish there was a way to disable the emoji button on each of the keyboards that I use. The stupid useless button just takes up space...
    I have to access a submenu for basic punctuation yet there is an emoji button occupying a prime spot right next to the space bar... Common...
  • People do care, but I also agree with you that there should be a way to disable the emoji button completely for those that don't use it.
  • So, emoji are part of a font, right? Why can't that be uncoupled from the OS and updated through the store? Never made sense to me that you have to update the entire operating system to update the font.
  • I don't think I've ever used an emoji before. I think it's more of a teenage girl thing. That's probably why more Apple users use them.
  • Don't forget men who act like teenage girls.
  • Like me? 😳 Tee hee hee. 🤦
  • I'm guessing the box with an x in it is an emoji I can't see. Haha
  • Exactly how I feel.
  • A phone that can't see the 12+ months of new emojis is crippled as a communication device - not the first metric that comes mind for "crippled communication device".
  • you may be right, but looking at other challenges we are seeing on (having too many messaging apps for example), this is not helping.
  • I never, ever, use emoji. I'm literate, and prefer to communicate precisely, not leave people guessing about what the Hell a string of stupid little graphics is supposed to mean. Emojis: the dumbing down of America.
  • lighten up bro
  • Oh that's cute. Get off your high horse - using emoji to add some flair to a personal conversation doesn't make anyone less literate than you.
  • +1
  • its not flair, it's just a bunch of pictured BS. overdone and overwrought.
  • Text based conversation are limited in the way emotion is communicated, at least succinctly. therefore emojis are valuable tools of expediant communication. It ensures that people are not left guessing as to what context the sentence is presented in. Someone as literate as yourself must understand this. 😎
  • This.
  • I understood you, and I didn't even need to interpret the emoji.
  • I'm sure it's partially my age talking, but I don't really care for emoji. I use the traditional smiley face and wink, and send a heart to my wife on a regular basis, but other than that, I'm ambivalent about them, That doesn't mean I don't understand the gist of the article. I get it, but it doesn't much matter to me.
  • I'm 51 and I only use them when texting to my girlfriend because she uses them. Otherwise I never use them.
  • There needs to be a standard for emoji's first. After that each phone brand includes them in their respective keyboard updates. Push them all out at the same time
  • There is a standard for emoji. The problem is the os needs to know how to read the new one's.
  • Shows u how much I kno about emoji's then lol. So it's the os that's jamming things up huh. That's not good at all. I'm not a huge fan but I get the appeal
  • People only use like a dozen of the same emoji in day to day usage. Having an extra couple of hundred at the ready really isn't important in the grand scheme of things.
  • Make emojis modular, and updated through the Play store. Then, you could even install different emoji if you wanted to.
  • fragmentation is a nightmare!
  • I thought I was good on nougat then 7. 1.1 came and added more. With that said all I ever needed was 🖕🏻
  • I'm of two minds on this. On the one hand I can understand why this can be frustrating. Seeing an empty square instead of what the other person was trying to get across. Can be an act of a circle jerk. On the other hand I as many here use just a fraction of the emoji we have access to.it not that it's not there but rather we don't need them as much as others do. If I see a long string of emoji instead of a coherent sentence. That person is going to hear more from me than oh that's cute. In the end in and of itself this is a minor issue. It does highlight though the ongoing problems in Android. That one day I pray will finally be fixed.
  • 🙅🏾🤶🏿🕵️🏿🤰🏽🤦🏾🤷🏼🤷🏼🤷🏼 😂😂😂😂
  • Seriously...
  • 🤣🤡🤠🤢🤧🤑👲🏿👵🏻👧🏿👨‍👨‍👦👨‍👨‍👦👩‍👩‍👧‍👦👩‍👩‍👦‍👦👨‍👨‍👧‍👦🤳🦄 I love being in the top 4% that can see them ahahah
  • This article, with the somber tone it takes about the oh so serious subject matter of emoji, and even more so, this comment thread, has made me laugh a freaking crap ton. Thank you for this.😂🤣 😂😂😂😂🤣
  • I do think the whole emoji thing is geared towards the younger users. My 10 year old daughter was complaining to me that my old Galaxy S3 I gave her to use didn't support the emojis all her friends were using and could I load the new ones on it. I ended up getting her a new unlocked Moto G4 and now she's happy. So even though many older people don't use them, the younger generation of users does and it's important to them. Let's face it if you want to build brand loyalty you need those younger users who will buy your products for life. As much as I dislike Apple, they do a great job building repeat customers.
  • Never mind the emojis , how about timely security updates? Hint:a 3 month delay is NOT timely.
  • EXACTLY!!!
  • Emoji must die.
  • That's the hope.
  • I'll never use em
    👇
  • #nexuspixelmasterrace
  • Thanks for this very informative article! 🙄
  • I wish I had an emoji that could express my disgust with this.
  • I looked through all of them for you. There isn't one.
  • 🤢😤🤧😰😱😵👹☠️
  • Android emoji are the worst emoji
  • 🍆
  • I was one of those many macho men on here saying is childless and feminine to use them. But having so many nephew nieces and dating girls who love emoji kinda had to go with the flow. Now I find myself using em often and I think it's fun using em for short quick texts 🐸
  • And Android emojis are ridiculously uglier than iOS! ;)
  • Idk but I have a s7 edge and feel like u have up to date emojis
  • We stick around because fragmentation doesn't matter.
  • Did Flo really waste a portion of her life writing this article?? What a waste of time and energy.
  • Man, lots of people in this thread seem to think that feature that they don't use shouldn't be considered important by anyone.
  • Exactly this!
  • Emojipedia? Who knew?
  • Btw. Emojis make me mental and I feel they're childish, but a crap ton of people I know use them A LOT.
  • No one i know use them other than sometimes " :-) "
  • maybe kids use them, don't know i chat only with adults
  • I never knew my communication device was crippled. Oh, the horror. What will I do now? My whole world is falling down around me.
  • I agree with the premise of the article that Google needs to do a better job with fragmentation and this is just one representation of the os as a whole but come on: "crippled as a commmunication device", "vast majority don't have emojis that represent them"?!? The whole point of an emoji is to send out a basic emotion. Those basic emojis have been there since the beginning. Other than that, why do we need a picture of a fireman/woman? Does someone actually need that to demonstrate who they are?
  • If Google can force everyone who wants their Android to be more than paperweights to use the stock Notifications system, what's stopping them from forcing everyone to use stock Android emoji?
  • Nobody really cares. If you feel you're not being represented because you don't have an emoji, grow up!
  • Amen to that! There are only 5 "emoticons" that matter. :) :P :( :D and ╭∩╮( ͡° ل͟ ͡° )╭∩╮
  • Decouple emoji from the system, they same way they did with Google Play Services and countless other parts of Android that in my opinion are far more important for the functioning of Android and the phone
  • I do most of my messaging through whatsapp which includes it's own emoji set that is quite up to date. And to ask the emoji haters, lighten up! They're a fun way to add a bit of colour and humour to your messaging - gifs are even better.
  • "OOOOH me SO MACHO 💪 Look at ME! Me NEVER use emojis! Me smash emojis! Me smart! 💪😠 Emoji for girls! Me tired! Me go to sleep 😴😴 ME UP. Me HATE emoji...." Blah blah blah shut tf up. We get it already. This article isn't for you.
  • Haha...nice
  • BitMoji...get it!
  • The author of this article has to much time on his hands. 😃
  • and this is the problem with the world. People are worried about not being represented in a modern day hieroglyphic and this is "news".... hey i got an idea, let let the little yellow blobs with faces be something fun and not a political standpoint. moral of the story is, who gives a ****
  • Good to see that you've got your priorities straight, Flo! Emoji packs are SO much more important than those pesky Security Updates /sarcasm
  • I want more animal emoji. So many species missing.
  • Google already has the solution to all these problems: The Pixel. "Spend your money where your mouth is" is very much true - but the solution isn't hopping over to iOS, it's buying the Pixel or whatever phone Google releases. Android is always going to be fragmented - there are people in third world nations using $50 phones which run Android. It offers them services they otherwise would not have access to, and the price for this is fragmentation. Heck, even comparing Android to iOS in that way is rather disingenuous. They are both mobile platforms, but it really is not a fair comparison bewteen the two. But yeah, if you want timely updates, and all the latest features, just spend iPhone levels of cash and buy Google's own phone. Putting the responsibility of everything Android on Google is naive - yes they've made the platform, but it is very much it's own beast now.
  • "Google's inclusive Emojis mean nothing." Best sentence you've ever written.