High-fives, colorful hearts, and a horrible goose top a short list of new emoji

Emojipedia's sample renderings of the new emoji slated for inclusion in version 15.0 of the Unicode standard.

Enlarge / Emojipedia’s sample renderings of the new emoji slated for inclusion in version 15.0 of the Unicode standard. (credit: Emojipedia)

Ahead of World Emoji Day, the emoji experts at Emojipedia have compiled and published sample images of the 31 new emoji characters slated for inclusion in version 15.0 of the Unicode standard. Among the new emoji we can expect to see on our phones and other devices later this year: a plain pink heart (along with gray and light blue versions), high-fives, a vibrating face, a moose head, a ginger root, maracas, a Wi-Fi symbol, a jellyfish, and a horrible goose.

There are a few more hurdles for these emoji to jump before we can actually start sending them to each other. First, they’ll need to make it into the final version of Unicode 15.0, currently slated for release in September 2022. Then, software developers will need to create their own designs for these characters and release them via software updates, something that usually happens several months after the Unicode spec is finalized.

As Emojipedia notes, the proposed list of new emoji is notable for its small size—”in fact, it is the smallest number of new emojis that Unicode has ever recommended at any one time.” It’s also the first draft emoji list with no new people emoji, though it does include new hand gestures, and the last few versions of the Unicode spec have collectively added hundreds of new people emoji. The Emoji Subcommittee has been pushing in recent years to rein in the number of new emoji included in any given release, citing how infrequently most emoji characters are used and how much work it is for companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Samsung to maintain ever-growing lists of emoji in their software.

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#emoji, #tech, #unicode

Next Windows 11 update brings back Clippy, along with redesigned emoji

Some of Windows 11's new emoji designs.

Enlarge / Some of Windows 11’s new emoji designs. (credit: Microsoft)

We’re nearly two months out from the public release of Windows 11, and Microsoft is still slowly updating bits and pieces of the operating system that weren’t quite ready in early October. Microsoft announced redesigned emoji back in July, and the next Windows update (version 22000.348, if you’re tracking this sort of thing) adds those emoji to Windows 11.

The new emoji remove the bold, black outlines from the Windows 10-era designs and change the colors and shapes of a few to make them match up better with Apple’s, Google’s, and Samsung’s glyphs—compare the new design for Spiral Shell to the old one, for an example. There are also a few cute Microsoft-specific touches, like a Clippy design for the paperclip emoji, though Ninja Cat appears to have been removed entirely.

A selection of the old Windows 10-style emoji (left) and the Windows 11 redesigns. The new versions drop the thick outlines, so now they all look lighter and brighter.

A selection of the old Windows 10-style emoji (left) and the Windows 11 redesigns. The new versions drop the thick outlines, so now they all look lighter and brighter.

These emoji use the basic designs that Microsoft showed off earlier this year—but without animation or the “3D” touches, like added depth and color gradients. The Verge speculates that this is a limitation of the vector graphics format Microsoft uses to display emoji in Windows—using vector graphics can reduce file sizes while making it a lot simpler to scale the size of emoji up and down without losing sharpness or detail, but it also works best with flat colors. We may yet see the 3D animated emoji in other Microsoft apps, like Teams.

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#clippy, #emoji, #tech, #windows-11

“Melting face,” “pregnant person,” and 35 other emoji approved for Unicode 14.0

All the potential new emoji

Enlarge / This is the full slate of proposed new emoji for Unicode 14.0. (credit: Emojipedia)

The Unicode Consortium has finalized Unicode 14.0, adding a total of 838 new characters to the standard, which dictates how text and other written characters are handled in most of the world’s software. Most notably for everyday users, Unicode 14.0 includes 37 new emoji characters, including multiple hand gestures and additions like “melting face,” “biting lip,” “troll,” “beans,” “pouring liquid,” “pregnant man,” and “pregnant person.”

The “pregnant man” and “pregnant person” emoji are important for inclusivity and representation, since some transgender and non-binary people can be pregnant. The “other keywords” for both emoji suggest possible alternate uses like “bloated” and “full.” But the emoji names for both characters were specifically changed from “man/person with swollen belly” to “pregnant man/person” back in February in order to be consistent with the name and intended usage of the extant “pregnant woman” emoji.

The finalized list of emoji is the same as the draft version that circulated a few months ago. That list removed a few candidates that could reappear in a future version of the Unicode spec, including “vulture,” “crow,” “raised little finger,” “cooking pot,” “chainsaw,” and “submarine.” The Unicode Consortium is working to limit the number of new emoji added in each new version of the standard to stay “focused on what is useful” and reduce the amount of work that OS and app developers need to do to support new emoji every year.

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#emoji, #tech

Twitter users in Turkey can now emoji-react to tweets

Starting today, Twitter is testing Tweet Reactions in Turkey for a limited time. Users in the region will be able to react to tweets using 😂 , 🤔 , 👏 , 😢, in addition to ❤. But if you can’t remember the chaos that ensued when the heart react replaced the favorite star in 2015… brace yourself.

Last year, Twitter added emoji reactions to DMs, but this isn’t the same set of emojis. This announcement comes after Twitter surveyed users in March about how they’d react (ha) if the platform were to adopt a Facebook-like way to engage with tweets, and what emojis they’d want to communicate with. In the survey, some of the proposed emoji sets included “agree” or “disagree” buttons, a dislike button, or Reddit-like upvotes and downvotes. But Twitter found from its survey that users were concerned about getting negative emoji feedback.

“Although ‘frustration’ and ‘anger’ are also common emotions people feel while reading Tweets, and some people want to express disagreement with Tweets, we’re not incorporating these as emoji reactions right now,” Twitter said in a press release. “Our goal is always to support healthy public conversation and we want to see how our current set of emoji will impact conversations.”

Unlike Facebook, which added reactions in 2015, Twitter isn’t testing an “angry” reaction, which was proposed in its survey. This is likely due to users’ hesitancy around negative responses, but still — if you’ve never been on the receiving end of an ill-intended “ha ha” react… Good for you! And it’s not as though arguments don’t happen on Twitter without emoji reactions.

Image Credits: Twitter

Twitter says that it wants emoji reactions to give people an easier way to show how they feel, which would — in a perfect world — lead to improved expression and participation in public conversation.

This test is only the latest feature that Twitter has tinkered with in the last week. You may also notice interest-based communities, full-width photos and videos, and new safety features cropping up on your feed. With this particular experiment, Twitter said that it will continue to consider community feedback as it tests additional emoji reactions. Based on user responses, it may expand the test’s availability to other regions.

Users in Turkey can experiment with this feature on iOS, Android, and web, which will roll out across the country in the coming days.

#apps, #emoji, #reaction, #turkey, #twitter

Microsoft launches a personalized news service, Microsoft Start

Microsoft today is introducing its own personalized news reading experience called Microsoft Start, available as both a website and mobile app, in addition to being integrated with other Microsoft products, including Windows 10 and 11 and its Microsoft Edge web browser. The feed will combine content from news publishers, but in a way that’s tailored to users’ individual interests, the company says — a customization system that could help Microsoft to better compete with the news reading experiences offered by rivals like Apple or Google, as well as popular third-party apps like Flipboard or SmartNews.

Microsoft says the product builds on the company’s legacy with online and mobile consumer services like MSN and Microsoft News. However, it won’t replace MSN. That service will remain available, despite the launch of this new, in-house competitor.

To use Microsoft Start, consumers can visit the standalone website MicrosoftStart.com, which works on both Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge (but not Safari), or they can download the Microsoft Start mobile app for iOS or Android.

The service will also power the News and Interests experience on the Windows 10 taskbar and the Widgets experience on Windows 11. In Microsoft Edge, it will be available from the New Tab page, too.

Image Credits: Microsoft

At first glance, the Microsoft Start website it very much like any other online portal offering a collection of news from a variety of publishers, alongside widgets for things like weather, stocks, sports scores and traffic. When you click to read an article, you’re taken to a syndicated version hosted on Microsoft’s domain, which includes the Microsoft Start top navigation bar at the top and emoji reaction buttons below the headline.

Users can also react to stories with emojis while browsing the home page itself.

This emoji set is similar to the one being offered today by Facebook, except that Microsoft has replaced Facebook’s controversial laughing face emoji with a thinking face. (It’s worth noting that the Facebook laughing face has been increasingly criticized for being used to openly ridicule posts and mock people  — even on stories depicting tragic events, like Covid deaths, for instance.)

Microsoft has made another change with its emoji, as well: after you react to a story with an emoji, you only see your emoji instead of the top three and total reaction count. 

Image Credits: Microsoft

But while online web portals tend to be static aggregators of news content, Microsoft Start’s feed will adjust to users’ interests in several different ways.

Users can click a “Personalize” button to be taken to a page where they can manually add and remove interests from across a number of high-level categories like news, entertainment, sports, technology, money, finance, travel, health, shopping, and more. Or they can search for categories and interests that could be more specific or more niche. (Instead of “parenting,” for instance, “parenting teenagers.”)  This recalls the recent update Flipboard made to its own main page, the For You feed, which lets users make similar choices.

As users then begin to browse their Microsoft Start feed, they can also click a button to thumbs up or thumbs down an article to better adjust the feed to their preferences. Over time, the more the user engages with the content, the better refined the feed becomes, says Microsoft. This customization will leverage A.I. and machine learning, as well as human moderation, the company notes.

The feed, like other online portals, is supported by advertising. As you scroll down, you’ll notice every few rows will feature one ad unit, where the URL is flagged with a green “Ad” badge. Initially, these mostly appear to be product ads, making them distinct from the news content. Since Microsoft isn’t shutting down MSN and is integrating this news service into a number of other products, it’s expanding the available advertising real estate it can offer with this launch.

According to the iOS app’s privacy label, the data being used to track users across websites and apps owned by other companies includes the User ID. By comparison, Google News does not include a tracking section. Both Microsoft Start and Google News collect a host of “data linked to you,” like location, identifiers, search history, usage data, contact info, and more. The website itself, however, only links to Microsoft’s general privacy policy.

The website, app and integrations are rolling out starting today. (If you aren’t able to find the app yet, you can try scanning the QR code from your mobile device.)

 

#a-i, #apple, #apps, #emoji, #finance, #machine-learning, #media, #microsoft, #microsoft-edge, #microsoft-windows, #mobile, #mobile-device, #msn, #news-publishers, #operating-systems, #social-media, #software, #web-browser, #windows-10, #windows-11

Yat thinks emoji ‘identities’ can be a thing, and it has $20M in sales to back it up

I learned about Yat in April, when a friend sent our group chat a link to a story about how the key emoji sold as an “internet identity” for $425,000. “I hate the universe,” she texted.

Sure, the universe would be better if people with a spare $425,000 spent it on mutual aid or something, but minutes later, we were trying to figure out what this whole Yat thing was all about. And few more minutes later, I spent $5 (in USD, not crypto) to buy ☕??❗, an emoji string that I think tells a moving story about my caffeine dependency and sensitive stomach. I didn’t think I would be writing about this when I made that choice.

Kesha’s Yat URL on Twitter

On the surface, Yat is a platform that lets you buy a URL with emojis in it — even Kesha (y.at/???), Lil Wayne (y.at/??), and Disclosure (y.at/???) are using them in their Twitter bios. Like any URL on the internet, Yats can redirect to another website, or they can function like a more eye-catching Linktree. While users could purchase their own domain name that supports emojis and use it instead of a Yat, many people don’t have the technical expertise or time to do so. Instead, they can make one-time purchase from Yat, which owns the Y.at domain, and the company will provide your with your own y.at link for you.

This convenience, however, comes at a premium. Yat uses an algorithm to determine your Yat’s “rhythm score,” its metric for determining how to price your emoji combo based on its rarity. Yats with one or two emojis are so expensive that you have to contact the company directly to buy them, but you can easily find a four- or five-emoji identity that’ll only put you out $4.

Beyond that, CEO Naveen Jain — a Y Combinator alumnus, founder of digital marketing company Sparkart, and angel investor — thinks that Yat is ultimately an internet privacy product. Jain wants people to be able to use their Yats in any way they’re able to use an online identity now, whether that’s to make payments, send messages, host a website, or login to a platform.

“Objectively, it’s a strange norm. You go on the internet, you register accounts with ad-supported platforms, and your username isn’t universal. You have many accounts, many usernames,” Jain said. “And you don’t control them. If an account wants to shut you down, they shut you down. How many stories are there of people trying to email some social network, and they don’t respond because they don’t have to?”

Yat doesn’t plan to fuel itself with ad money, since users pay for the product when they purchase their Yat, whether they get it for $4 or $400,000.

In the long run, Yat’s CEO says the company plans to use blockchain technology as a way to become self-sovereign. Yats would become assets issued on decentralized, distributed databases. Today, there are several projects working to create a decentralized alternative to the current domain name system (DNS), which is managed by internet regulatory authority ICANN.  DNS is how you find things on the internet, but uses a centralized, hierarchical system. A blockchain domain name system would have no central authority, and some believe this could be the foundation of a next-gen web, or “Web 3.0.”

Today, words like “blockchain” and “cryptocurrency” don’t appear on the Yat website. Jain doesn’t think that’s compelling to average consumers — he believes in progressive decentralization, which explains why Yats are currently purchased with dollars, not ethereum.

“Something we think is really funny about the cryptocurrency world is that anyone who’s a part of it spends a lot of time talking about databases,” Jain said. “People don’t care about databases. When’s the last time you went to a website and it said ‘powered by MySQL’?”

Y.at, however, was registered at a traditional internet registrar, not on the blockchain.

“This is laying the foundation — there are certain elements of the vision that are certainly more of a social contract than actual implementation at this point in time,” says Jain. “But this is the vision that we’ve set forth, and we’re working continuously towards that goal.”

Still, until Yat becomes more decentralized, it can’t yet give users the complete control it aspires to. At present, the Terms & Conditions give Yat the authority to terminate or suspend users at its discretion, but the company claims it hasn’t yet booted anyone from the system.

As Yat becomes more decentralized, our terms and conditions won’t be important,” Jain said. “This is the nature of pursuing a progressive decentralization strategy.”

In its “generation zero” phase (an open beta), Yat claims to have sold almost $20 million worth of emoji identities. Now, as the waitlist to get a Yat ends, Yat is posting some rare emoji identities on OpenSea, the NFT marketplace that recently reached a valuation of $1.5 billion.

A still image of a Yat visualizer creation

“For the first time ever, we’re going to be auctioning some Yats on OpenSea, and we’re going to be launching minting of Yats on Ethereum,” Jain said. Before minting Yats as NFTs, users can create a digital art landscape for their Yats through a Visualizer. These features, as well as new emojis in the Yat emoji set, will launch this evening at a virtual event called Yat Horizon.

Yat Creators will now have more rights,” Jain said about the new ability to mint Yats as NFTs. “We are going to continue to pursue progressive decentralization until we achieve our ultimate goal: making Yat the best self-directed, self-sovereign identity system for all.”

Consumers have a demonstrated interest in retaining greater privacy on the internet — data shows that in iOS 14.5, 96% of users opted out of ad tracking. But the decentralization movement hasn’t yet been able to market its privacy advantages to the mainstream. Yat helps solve this problem because even if you don’t understand what blockchain means, you understand that having a personal string of emojis is pretty fun. But, before you spend $425,000 on a single-emoji username, keep in mind that Yat’s vision will only completely materialize with the advent of Web 3.0, and we don’t yet know when or if that will happen.

#apps, #articles, #blockchain, #blockchains, #ceo, #computing, #cryptocurrencies, #decentralization, #emoji, #ethereum, #facebook, #ion, #mysql, #naveen-jain, #online-identity, #opensea, #social-network, #startups, #technology, #twitter

Instagram confirms test of new anti-harassment tool, Limits, designed for moments of crisis

Instagram head Adam Mosseri confirmed the company is testing a new feature called “Limits,” which would give users the ability to temporary lock down their accounts when they’re being targeted by a flood of harassment. The announcement of the new feature was made today during a video where Mosseri condemned the recent racism that took place on Instagram’s platform following the Euro 2020 final, and noted the company was working on improvements to both internal and customer-facing tools to help address this problem.

The company had previously commented on and condemned the racist abuse, which had seen England footballers Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho viciously harassed by angry fans making racist comments after the team’s defeat earlier this month. Mosseri explained at the time the company was using technology to try to prioritize user reports, and it mistakenly marked some reports as benign comments instead of referring them to human moderators. One of the possible complications was that many of the harassing comments were using emoji, which Instagram’s systems may have struggled to understand given emoji can have different meanings in different contexts.

Today, Mosseri again acknowledged Instagram’s mistake and noted it has since fixed the issue. He said Instagram had been proactively sweeping the footballers’ comments, but hadn’t anticipated the wave of user reports.

He also pointed out that Instagram receives millions of user reports per day and even getting 1% of them wrong leads to tens of thousands of problematic posts that remain on the platform in error.

Mosseri then mentioned several user-facing tools that could help people deal with harassment more directly on their own accounts to prevent abuse. This includes Instagram’s tools like Block and Restrict. The latter is tool that allows users to approve a user’s comments before anyone else sees them or read someone’s messages without sending read receipts. Another more recently added tool called Hidden Words lets users block certain keywords in both comments and direct messages.

He added that Instagram was also testing a new tool called Limits, which would allow users to lock down their accounts in a “moment of risk.” This feature could have helped the footballers, as it would have offered simple settings to limit unwanted comments and reactions.

The feature had been spotted earlier this month by social media consultant Matt Navarra, who shared screenshots of how it worked, but Instagram had yet to formally announce it.

In the images that were shared, users with the feature would find a new section called Limits in Instagram’s privacy controls which explained that they could temporarily limits comments and messages from specific groups of followers.

Users could then toggle on or off groups to limit, including recent followers and accounts that are not following you, as these could include accounts that were spam or those created just to harass you. As is often the case, when there’s a flood of incoming abuse, it will not come from an account’s longtime followers, but rather from newcomers who have sought out the account just to harass them.

The feature will also allow users to set a duration for the Limits in terms of a number of days or even weeks.

An Instagram spokesperson also confirmed the feature worked as the images show, noting it would be a tool that would help people manage “intense instances of harassment or abuse.”

“Maybe you’re in high school and you are going through break up or you just switched schools. Or maybe you are professional footballer and you’re receiving a lot of harassment,” explained Mosseri, when detailing how Limits could be useful in different situations. “Whatever it is, we know that people sometimes are in temporary moments of real risk of pain, and we want to give them tools to protect themselves in those situations,” he added.

Instagram declined to say when the feature would become publicly available, but noted it’s being tested on mobile in select countries for the time being.

#adam-mosseri, #apps, #emoji, #instagram, #media, #mobile, #social, #social-media

Facebook Messenger is stepping up its emoji game

If you can’t say it with words, say it with an emoji. Facebook is announcing a few minor updates today to its Messenger platform, which make it easier than ever to find the exact emoji you’re looking for when reacting to a friend’s message (let’s be real, there’s a big difference between the “crying laughing” and “crying” emoji). This includes a search bar for emoji reactions, and a recently used emojis section. And, if you weren’t let down by the long-awaited “Space Jam” sequel, you can sport your love for hoopster Bugs Bunny with a “Space Jam 2” chat theme, available both on Messenger and in Instagram DMs. Don’t get too excited though — even though this theme sets a basketball as the chat’s emoji, the long lost, beloved basketball mini game has not yet made its triumphant return to the Messenger app.

Image Credits: Facebook Messenger

It may not feel like there’s room for innovation in, um, the emoji space, but even Twitter has explored the option of allowing people to emoji-react to tweets. And as live audio has become ever present — from Clubhouse, to Twitter Spaces, to Spotify’s Greenroom — why not add audio to emojis?

Last week, Messenger debuted Soundmojis, which are what they sound like — emojis with sounds. On the Messenger app, you can use Soundmojis by clicking the smiley face icon in the chat box, which opens up the expressions menu. When you select the loudspeaker icon, you can select from just under 30 standard emojis, but when you click on them, they play sounds including “Brooklyn 99” quotes, Olivia Rodrigo clips, and lines from “Bridgerton.” The “X” emoji plays “Oh No” by Capone, a song that went viral on TikTok.

According to Facebook Messenger, people send more than 2.4 billion messages with emojis on the platform each day. That’s great and all, but if we can tap the car emoji to hear sounds from “Fast & Furious,” when will we be able to tap the soccer emoji to play “keepie uppie” again?

#apps, #clubhouse, #computing, #emoji, #facebook-messenger, #fast-furious, #internet-culture, #line, #messenger, #mobile-applications, #operating-systems, #smiley, #social-media, #software, #space-jam, #spotify

A troll, a pregnant man, and a low battery make the list of proposed new emoji

Today is World Emoji Day, a thing I never knew existed until two years ago when Ford publicized that it was trying to get a pickup truck added to the official set. Truth be told, I forgot all about World Emoji Day almost immediately, but I was reminded again this week when I saw the list of potential new additions being considered by the Unicode Consortium for inclusion into Unicode 14.

Some of these potential emoji would be useful for talking about the climate emergency—I’m thinking of the melting face and also the coral here. I’m sure we can all use a troll in our lives, too, while the saluting face will replace the trusty o7. And the low battery is bound to be popular. There are some new hands, gesturing, pointing, shaking, and even making love hearts to boot.

A couple of additions might upset some reactionaries on the Internet, however. Specifically, the pregnant man and his gender neutral equivalent, the pregnant person, have been proposed as inclusive additions since pregnancy is possible for some transgender and non-binary people. The world may also soon receive a gender neutral person with a crown option to go with the emoji man and woman wearing crowns.

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#emoji, #emojipedia, #emojis-emojis-emojis, #gaming-culture, #mfing-emojis-you-guys, #world-emoji-day

Apple releases iOS 14.5, the biggest update since iOS 14 first launched

Apple's 2020 iPad Air.

Enlarge / Apple’s 2020 iPad Air. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Today is the day: Apple has finally released iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 worldwide after a longer-than-usual beta period. If you’re using a supported device, you should be able to find the update on the software update page in the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch’s Settings app.

This is arguably the biggest update of the iOS 14 cycle that began with iOS 14.0 and iPadOS 14.0 on September 16 of last year. The most consequential change for many is App Tracking Transparency, a new policy whereby app developers are required to get user opt-in to track users between apps.

But iOS 14 and iPadOS 14.5 also introduce a long-needed workaround for using Face ID when wearing a mask, support for the new AirTag accessory, several changes aimed at making experiences within the software more inclusive for a diverse user base, new Siri features and voices, and changes to the Reminders, News, Music, and Podcasts apps, among other things.

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#airtag, #app-tracking-transparency, #apple, #apple-music, #apple-news, #apple-podcasts, #apple-watch, #dualsense, #emoji, #face-id, #ios, #ios-14, #ios-14-5, #ipad, #ipados, #ipados-14, #ipados-14-5, #iphone, #privacy, #tech

Twitter is exploring the use of Facebook-style emoji reactions

If you’re old enough to remember the outrage that followed Twitter’s decision to replace stars with hearts (aka likes instead of favorites), then you know that Twitter’s user base has strong feelings about how it wants to engage with tweets. Now, Twitter is considering another radical change on this front that could shake things up yet again. The company has been surveying users throughout the month to get input on how they feel about a broader set of emoji-style reactions, similar to what you’d see on Facebook.

“We’re exploring additional ways for people to express themselves in conversations happening on Twitter,” a Twitter spokesperson said of the survey.

Specifically, Twitter’s survey proposed a few different sets of reaction emojis, all of which include the heart (like), laughing face with tears (funny), thinking face (interesting) and crying face (sad).

It then proposed some variations on this basic set, where the “awesome” sentiment could be expressed with either the shocked face or fire emoji, or where a “support” sentiment could be indicated with either the hug emoji or the raised hands.

More controversially, Twitter is considering a way for users to signal a general like or dislike for the tweet with either a thumbs up or thumbs down, a “100” in either green or red to indicate “agree” or “disagree,” or a green up arrow icon or red down arrow icon, reminiscent of Reddit’s upvote and downvote mechanisms.

The survey questions demonstrated that Twitter is aware of the challenges that come with introducing emoji reactions that could imply negative sentiments. It asked the respondents how they would want to take advantage of a downvote or dislike, for example — whether they would use the reaction instead of replying to a tweet, or whether they would downvote irrelevant or offensive tweets, as well.

Twitter also asked how users would feel if their own tweets were downvoted and whether that would discourage them from tweeting in the future, or if they would take it more as “constructive” feedback about their content. (Ha!)

The company clearly understands that the introduction of reaction sets could have a significant impact on how people engage with Twitter content and, potentially, could even lead to a chilling effect on Twitter usage if people became overly concerned about having their tweets downvoted.

That said, the upvote and downvote mechanism — whether as thumbs or arrows or anything else — remains a common way to engage with content elsewhere on the web. This includes not only forum sites like Reddit and others, but also YouTube, Imgur and Pandora, to name a few. A “thumbs up” signal by itself, meanwhile, is even more popular thanks to Facebook’s lead. But today, this like button can also take the shape of an arrow, heart or just a box to click — like when you mark an Amazon.com user review as “Helpful,” for example.

Meanwhile, the use of expanded emoji reactions has become more common since Facebook’s emoji reaction set debuted in 2015. Since then, other social media sites adopted their use, like LinkedIn. Twitter even added emoji reactions to its DMs (direct messages) last year.

Twitter’s survey additionally asked users about how the thought the emoji reactions should be displayed — like whether negative reaction counts should be visible, for instance.

Twitter told TechCrunch the work it’s doing in the space of reactions is exploratory — it’s only running this survey now because the company is thinking about ways people could add more nuance to the conversations they’re having, and how, by doing so, readers would be able to better understand the additional context around those conversations. Plus, Twitter notes that the new emoji reactions would not replace the “heart;” they’re additive.

But although Twitter hasn’t yet built out its emoji reaction set or put it into testing, it appears it’s on the path to do so.

In response to a user’s recent request to test emoji reactions instead of just hearts, Twitter Chief Design Officer Dantley Davis replied, “we’ll have something for you soon.”

 

#apps, #emoji, #hearts, #internet-culture, #like-button, #social, #social-media, #social-software, #twitter

Android’s winter update adds new features to Gboard, Maps, Books, Nearby Share and more

Google announced this morning Android phones will receive an update this winter that will bring some half-dozen new features to devices, including improvements to apps like Gboard, Google Play Books, Voice Access, Google Maps, Android Auto, and Nearby Share. The release is the latest in a series of update bundles that now allow Android devices to receive new features outside of the usual annual update cycle.

The bundles may not deliver Android’s latest flagship features, but they offer steady improvements on a more frequent basis.

One of the more fun bits in the winter update will include a change to “Emoji Kitchen,” the feature in the Gboard keyboard app that lets users combine their favorite emoji to create new ones that can be shared as customized stickers. To date, users have remixed emoji over 3 billion times since the feature launched earlier this year, Google says. Now, the option is being expanded. Instead of offering hundreds of design combinations, it will offer over 14,000. You’ll also be able to tap two emoji to see suggested combinations or double tap on one emoji to see other suggestions.

Image Credits: Google

This updated feature had been live in the Gboard beta app, but will now roll out to Android 6.0 and above devices in the weeks ahead.

Another update will expand audiobook availability on Google Play Books. Now, Google will auto-generate narrations for books that don’t offer an audio version. The company says it worked with publishers in the U.S. and U.K. to add these auto-narrated books to Google Play Books. The feature is in beta but will roll out to all publishers in early 2021.

An accessibility feature that lets people use and navigate their phone with voice commands, Voice Access, will also be improved. The feature will soon leverage machine learning to understand interface labels on devices. This will allow users to refer to things like the “back” and “more” buttons, and many others by name when they are speaking.

The new version of Voice Access, now in beta, will be available to all devices worldwide running Android 6.0 or higher.

An update for Google Maps will add a new feature to one of people’s most-used apps.

In a new (perhaps Waze-inspired) “Go Tab,” users will be able to more quickly navigate to frequently visited places — like a school or grocery store, for example — with a tap. The app will allow users to see directions, live traffic trends, disruptions on the route, and gives an accurate ETA, without having to type in the actual address. Favorite places — or in the case of public transit users, specific routes — can be pinned in the Go Tab for easy access. Transit users will be able to see things like accurate departure and arrival times, alerts from the local transit agency, and an up-to-date ETA.

Image Credits: Google

One potentially helpful use case for this new feature would be to pin both a transit route and driving route to the same destination, then compare their respective ETAs to pick the faster option.

This feature is coming to both Google Maps on Android as well as iOS in the weeks ahead.

Android Auto will expand to more countries over the next few months. Google initially said it would reach 36 countries, but then updated the announcement language as the timing of the rollout was pushed back. The company now isn’t saying how many countries will gain access in the months to follow or which ones, so you’ll need stay tuned for news on that front.

Image Credits: Google

The final change is to Nearby Share, the proximity-based sharing feature that lets users share things like links, files, photos and and more even when they don’t have a cellular or Wi-Fi connection available. The feature, which is largely designed with emerging markets in mind, will now allow users to share apps from Google Play with people around them, too.

To do so, you’ll access a new “Share Apps” menu in “Manage Apps & Games” in the Google Play app. This feature will roll out in the weeks ahead.

Some of these features will begin rolling out today, so you may receive them earlier than a timeframe of several “weeks,” but the progress of each update will vary.

#android, #apps, #emoji, #gboard, #google, #google-play, #google-play-books, #google-maps, #mobile, #smartphones

iOS 14.2 is here with new emoji and wallpapers, long list of bug fixes

A blue smartphone sits face down on a table.

Enlarge / The iPhone 12, which runs iOS 14, and now (should you choose to update) iOS 14.2. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Today, Apple began rolling out iOS 14.2, iPadOS 14.2, tvOS 14.2, and watchOS 7.1 for supported devices. The last update to iOS and iPadOS was iOS 14.1 on October 22.

The new versions of iOS and iPadOS add 100 new emoji, which include “animals, food, faces, household objects, musical instruments, gender-inclusive emoji, and more,” according to the release notes. iPhones and iPads got a new Shazam button in the control center. Shazam, which Apple acquired just over two years ago, identifies songs algorithmically by listening to them with the microphones in the devices. Before the acquisition, it was also used as a sort of audio QR code for marketing activations during TV commercials and the like.

There are also some AirPods-related changes, including variable battery charging to preserve battery longevity (something Apple has already implemented in other devices) and notifications that let you know when your volume level is high enough to cause hearing damage. Apple promised this with iOS 14 when it initially launched.

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#apple, #emoji, #homepod, #ios, #ios-14, #ios-14-2, #ipad, #ipados, #ipados-14, #ipados-14-2, #iphone, #tech, #tvos, #tvos-14, #tvos-14-2, #watchos, #watchos-7, #watchos-7-1

Apple to release new emojis with iOS 14.2

While the current version of iOS is iOS 14.0.1, Apple is already testing iOS 14.2. The company released an early beta version of the update yesterday, and it includes a new set of emojis, as Emojipedia spotted.

Apple already shared an early look of the new emojis back in July. Overall, there will be dozens of new emojis this year. Emojis will also be more diverse and inclusive than ever with new variations of existing emojis.

Earlier this year, the governing body in charge of approving new emojis, the Unicode Consortium, approved 117 new emojis as part of Unicode 13.0. Operating system developers and social network companies, such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook and Mozilla, then draw their own versions of the new emojis and release them on their platforms.

In this release, you’ll find a transgender flag, a smiling face with tear, pinched fingers, two people hugging, some insects and animals, a disguised face and more.

My favorite is arguably disguised face:

Emojipedia compiled those new emojis on a single image:

When it comes to new variations, there will be a Mx Claus, a gender-inclusive alternative to Santa Claus and Mrs Claus. Tuxedos are no longer limited to men and veils are no longer limited to women. You’ll be able to send an emoji with a woman wearing a tuxedo and a man wearing a veil.

You can expect the full release of iOS 14.2, iPadOS 14.2 and macOS Big Sur in a month or two.

#apple, #emoji, #emojis, #ios, #mobile, #unicode

Facebook adds new ‘care’ emoji reactions on its main app and in Messenger

As a lot of us continue to stay indoors, Facebook has become a go-to platform for many people to check in with their friends, family and neighbours during the current coronavirus pandemic. Today, to give us another way of showing support and presence in its apps, the company said it would add a new reaction for “care” — in the forms of an emoji face hugging a heart, and a pulsing heart — that will appear alongside the “thumbs up” for like, the basic heart, and the laughing, shock, sadness, and anger emojis.

This makes “care” the first addition to the list of reactions since it was expanded from a simple “like” button back in 2015 to give people more empathetic, quick responses to posts.

Starting next week, the care emojis will start appearing on Facebook’s main app (the emoji face embracing the heart), while the new reaction will appear on Messenger (in the form of a pulsing heart) from today. You can see the new heart by pressing on an existing reaction to change it, or by creating a new reaction to a chat.

“We hope these reactions give people additional ways to show their support during the #COVID19 crisis,” a spokesperson noted about the new emojis earlier today. “We know this is an uncertain time, and we wanted people to be able to show their support in ways that let their friends and family know they are thinking of them.”

Ahead of today, it looks like Pedja Ristic, a product designer at Facebook, was testing the reaction on his own posts, another hint it was coming.

This is relatively speaking a pretty small gesture: offering up an emoji in response to a post is not putting food on the table (nor shopping for it, which has become a challenge in itself), giving someone a guarantee of income, making sure that a person is not being misinformed about the scope of the  novel coronavirus and how best to deal with that, nor indeed curing anyone who happens to get sick from this awful thing.

But in the scope of Facebook being a crucial part of many people’s support networks, ever more important as people live in isolation, it’s another way to make it more useful and more tuned to the kind of empathy we all need right now.

Facebook has been working on a number of levels to do something useful in the current health crisis. Its work has ranged from making stronger efforts to ferret out and remove misinformation, provide grants to those in media that are working to report the news well, separate grants to small businesses, supporting public health initiatives to get more important messages out, and like many others also donating masks to those in need.

#care, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #emoji, #facebook, #health, #like-button, #reactions, #social, #tc