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Friday, February 6, 2015

emoji and emoticon ~ running up huge bills for using them

Communication is an art ~ in olden days, people used to write letters – on post cards, inland letters, plain paper sent in postal covers, printed greeting cards and more – later e-mail evolved; now it is SMS – social media era.  Rather than mere words, usage of graphics and symbols, can enhance expression of feelings such as happiness, anger, surprise, sadness and more.  

A Raised fist : fist raised in the air used as a celebratory gesture: the fist pump. It is also used to represent zero items, due to a lack of any fingers being held up.

Folded hands : Two hands placed firmly together, meaning please or thank you in Japanese culture – though would mean prayer and thank you in Indian culture.

Samples of ‘Emoji’ - the ideograms or smileys used in Japanese electronic messages and webpages, the use of which is spreading outside Japan. Originally meaning pictograph, the word emoji literally means "picture" (e) + "character" (moji).  Some emoji are very specific to Japanese culture, such as a bowing businessman, a face wearing a face mask, a white flower used to denote "brilliant homework," or a group of emoji representing popular foods.

Although originally only available in Japan, some emoji character sets have been incorporated into Unicode, allowing them to be used elsewhere as well. As a result, some phones such as the Windows Phone and the iPhone, and the Android  lines allow access to the symbols without requiring a Japanese carrier. Emoji have also started appearing in emailing services such as Gmail and websites.  The exact appearance of Emoji is not prescribed but varies between fonts, in the same way that normal typefaces can display a letter differently.  There has been attempts to include more diverse range of skin colourings to the popular emoji icons.  

It is likely that you would have used or have been using ‘emojis’ – BBC and other newssites report that  people using emoji  text messages could be racking up big bills.  It is stated that Consumer website MoneySavingExpert has received a large number of complaints about the issue. It seems to affect older models of phones, including some Samsung and Apple handsets. In Scotland, a woman ran up bills totalling over £1,000 after adding emoticons to text messages.  The happy face that one sends may turn themselves ‘sad’ as the issue revolves around how the handset interprets the icons. In some cases, especially on older handsets, the emoticons are converted into MMS (multi-media service) messages, which can cost  high for the user.   Some expressed surprise as to how a small emoji added could make it a picture message.  ~ and some apps (such as Facebook) that integrate with a customer's contact list in their smartphone may result in an MMS charge too," – it is stated.

For people like us – there is confusion on ‘what is an emoji and what is emoticon’…… it appears that  emoji is a rather open set of pictorial icons.  Even though the set is generally limited by the cellphone company which makes the phone, potentially it could include pretty much.  Emoticons on the other hand are generally a limited set of icons which, by definition, express an emotion of one kind or another.  Most are based on cartoon-like faces, although there are exceptions.  While emoticons originated as text, and even today encompass both text (i.e. a simple form of ASCII art) and actual pictures, emoji have always been just pictures. 

~ - emoticons come in two flavours: text and image.  Text emoticons are the original version.  Images are a more recent version, and most text emoticons have a pictorial version.  Image emoticons are de facto emoji.  In someways, they are the subset of emoji used for expressing emotions.  Text emoticons may thus be considered precursors of emoji, which have nonetheless developed in their own way and remain relevant.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
6th Feb 2015.

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