All your emoji are belong to us

Just a few days ago (June 2nd), the Unicode 6 beta was released by the Unicode consortium. The biggest addition to the Unicode range might surprise you. This time, it’s emoji – a Japanese term for emoticons or pictographs commonly used on mobile devices, especially in Japan and other Asian countries – that are being brought into the Unicode family.

Emoji have distinct semantics, and are often substituted for related words (as they are faster/easier to type on a mobile phone). For the first time, there is a standard encoding for these characters that allows lossless interchange of emoji between different vendors. In addition to emoji, 222 new CJK unified ideographs in common use in China and Japan have been added, and 3 new scripts (Mandaic, Batak, and Brahmi).

If you are familiar with instant messaging, you probably know what emoticons are. But in case you still don’t have a good idea of what emoji are, here’s a pic of some emoji on my iPhone (normally available only on the Japanese iPhone, but there’s a hack to get them in other languages too).

iPhone emoji

Read more on the Unicode 6 beta at the Unicode Consortium’s site.