emoji keyboard classification

There have been a lot of internet goings-on about the new emoji keyboard, ranging from praising its more racially-inclusive icon options to those who apparently can’t handle change. As a library nerd naturally I’m thinking about the new classification system. This is going to take a few posts probably but I want to start exploring it here.

Here’s an image I found of the old keyboard. It is actually extremely difficult to find the 2014 complete keyboard, this one is older meaning it lacks the cats, the family icons, and probably a few others too, but I think it still works well enough for this purpose. Image found here. Also if you can send me screenshots of the most recent emoji keyboard prior to the switch – would you?

The old emoji keyboard.
The old emoji keyboard.

The old classification system used a simple picture band to separate the icons into 5 main categories:

The old selection bar.
The old selection bar.

The clock stands for “recently used” – that still exists in the new version. The first deliberate category is the Smiley Face, standing in for “generic” human activities and faces. (I say “generic” here to mean sort of basic human emotions and actions that don’t require specialized equipment or knowledge — not to imply that it is all-inclusive, which it is not). This includes non-gendered, non-race specific yellow expression faces; symbols that stand for emotions (hearts) or human functions (snoring, farting); hands making symbolic gestures (non-gendered, white skin toned); several gendered, mostly white people-icons doing a variety of “basic” human activities (holding hands, kissing, being old; and finally some individual features such as disembodied eyes and lips.

The second grouping is symbolized by the Flower which stands in for weather, living animals and non-edible plants.

The third grouping is the Bell, the meaning of which is a little more obscure but based on the icons seems to imply celebration and activity. These are more “outside-the-house” people than the first set of human icons. Here we have holiday-themed icons, technology, office & school supplies, medical equipment, sports equipment, people involved in sports activities, playing cards, arts, literature and music themed images, clothing and makeup, jewelry, drinks, food, desserts and finally fruits.

The fourth set, symbolized by a Car, includes buildings, vehicles, signage, and a small selection of national flags.

The final set, denoted by a rectangle containing some punctuation symbols, contains numbers, words, some Japanese characters, symbols of a seemingly random nature (a stylized iPhone, some signage-type symbols resembling bathroom signs, etc), and analog clock images.

Next time I’ll summarize the new classification system, right now I think I need to step away from emojis and clean my room, because I’m moving to Seattle soon (maybe talk about that in another post) and my work is neverending.


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