Unicode update lets you say 'spider,' 'dark glasses' in pictures

A new version of Unicode supports emoji, currency symbols and historic languages

Some of the new emoji in Unicode version 7.0

Some of the new emoji in Unicode version 7.0

Unicode, the character-encoding standard that underpins a vast amount of the Internet and many computing applications, has been updated to include an additional 250 "emoji" and several other updates.

The system provides a consistent way for computer software around the world to handle and transmit characters, so for example an "A" is always an "A" and a "$" always a "$" in any supporting application. Since its launch in the early '90s, it has grown to encompass most of the world's languages.

The latest version, 7.0, brings hundreds of new "emoji," which are the small pictorial representations of things like a smiling face, a thumbs-up or a shining sun. Originally developed in Japan for use on cellphones, they have become popular worldwide, especially with teens.

Among the new emoji in Unicode 7.0 are a spider, dark sunglasses, a hammer, an airplane arriving, a rocket and a satellite.

It's unknown when or if the new symbols will be available for use on cellphones. For that to happen, font updates will have to be provided by Apple, Google, Microsoft and other phone software makers.

Also included are new symbols for the Russian ruble and the Azerbaijani manat and a host of other symbols, historical scripts and updates to existing scripts. The Unicode consortium, which keeps the standard, said the additions support "written languages of North America, China, India, other Asian countries, and Africa."

Before Unicode, different countries or language groups had their own text encoding standards.

The problem became apparent to end users with the widespread introduction of the World Wide Web. Pages written in one standard would sometimes be misinterpreted by a browser as another standard, leading to a page full of gibberish and requiring the user to manually select the right option.

Still today, many Web browsers have an "encoding" menu that allows users to make this selection but, thanks to Unicode, it's rarely required.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags softwareUnicode Consortiuminternet

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?