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The State of Emoji on Android (and some solutions)


One of the strangest omissions from most Android devices has been the lack of emoji support.  This is something that iOS users have been enjoying natively for years among each other and that until recently Google has not really addressed with any sort of fanfare.  While most recent Nexus devices (Nexus 4, 7, 10 and Galaxy Nexus) do have emoji support built in through the native Google keyboard, it has not carried over to most of their partners handsets.   Fret not dear readers, there are some pretty decent options for those of you who crave sending and receiving tiny ice cream emoji with friends.

Read after the jump for some options:

If you have a Google Nexus device with 4.2 (Jellybean) and up:

Emoji are natively available system wide however they are most likely not turned on by default.  This is what you need to do to enable them:

 Under Settings, go to "Language and Input" and make sure that "iWnn IME" is checked on.

 Go into the settings for "Google keyboard" and then choose "Add on dictionaries"

 Click on "Emoji for English words" and let it install.  At this point if you should be able to see emoji system wide whether it's texting or instagram. Try it with different apps.

 To send emoji, either long press the space bar to choose the emoji keyboard (if within Google keyboard) or swype down from the top of the screen to show the "choose input method" menu.

Send your emoji and enjoy.  Depending on your version of Android, your emoji  will most likely be black and white.  Kit Kat (4.4) devices will display color versions.

For every one who does not have a Nexus device:

 You can install the latest version of the Google Hangouts app:




The latest version of Hangouts supports emoji, SMS, and MMS natively.  These Emoji are in color. Just install, enable sms support, and run:

Googles Description
Hangouts brings one-on-one and group conversations to life with photos, emoji, and video calls for free. Connect with friends across computers, Android and Apple devices. Brought to you by Google+.
● Say more with photos, emoji, and animated GIFs.
● See when people are together in Hangouts, when they’re typing, or whether they’ve seen your message.
● Send and receive text messages (SMS/MMS) with Hangouts. Switch between SMS and Hangouts when messaging a friend. You can also do group MMS conversations.
● Turn any conversation into a video call with up to 10 friends.
● Message friends anytime, even if they're not connected right now.
● Use Hangouts on computers, Android and Apple devices.
More Hangouts awesomeness:
● Hangouts stay in sync across devices so you can start or continue them anywhere.
● Choose from hundreds of emoji to help you make your point.
● See what you talked about in the past, including shared photos and your video call history.
● Get notifications just once. Once you see an alert, you won’t see repeats on your computer or other Android devices.
● View collections of photos shared from each of your Hangouts.
● Snooze notifications at times when you’d prefer to be undisturbed by alerts.
● Quickly share a location with your friends.
Notes:
● Unlike Google Talk, Hangouts does not support "invisible" status.

One issue with this method is that you will only be able to send and receive emoji through the hangouts app itself.  It will not be a system wide upgrade. 

In addition, you can also install "Google Keyboard" on your device which now gives some very basic emoji support through a smiley key if you have an Android version lower than 4.4 Kit Kat.  This is a system wide change but your emoji will be limited.




Yet another option for Android devices is the "Wnn keyboard Lab" app that is available free in the Google Play Store:




Simply install and follow its directions to get emoji support. Like with the Nexus version of iWnn, you will have to manually switch keyboards when you want to send emoji.  Sadly, this keyboard does not support swipe/trace typing.  It does however work system wide in many apps.

There are other 3rd party options but these are the simplest and most universal options that I've used.  According to reports around the web, the Android 4.3 update for many Samsung Galaxy phones also enables native emoji but my personal device (Sprint Galaxy Note 2) has not yet been updated for me to test.  If anyone can confirm, please leave a comment. 





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