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Religious emojis on the way

6 August 20140 comments

emojis piclA new batch of 250 emojis is being rolled out by Unicode and among them is a set of religious icons.

Emojis are the ideograms, or smiley faces, used in electronic messages and webpages.

Unicode, the character coding system, is producing a series of emojis with religious significance.

So, in addition to smiley faces, high heels and frogs, there will be three types of crosses, the dove of peace and the Om symbol, a mystical Sanskrit sound of Hindu origin.

They will join an emoji cast that includes an angel and a devil.

The new emojis will be available with the Unicode 7.0 update. But that doesn’t mean users will have them right away.

Companies such as Apple, Microsoft and Google have to decide which emojis they want and how they’ll look before customers have the option to use them.

Rick McGowan, technical vice president of Unicode, said symbols are added “because they are, in general, used widespread as text symbols in one context or another.”

Mr McGowan also said symbols are added after they are proposed by Unicode members or by the general public through an online proposal form.

But with the lack of religious emojis before this announcement, other apps have been vying to fill growing need.

Michelle Sullivan and Ana Streczyn founded GodsMAC Apps in 2012 and released the apps Holy Emojis, Pic Christian and Pic Christian Pro.

The Holy Emojis app was the first to give Christians more than 100 emojis, including a symbol of a Jesus fish or cross.

“I think instead of writing a quote from the Bible or a quote from a prayer book or whatever, they can just send a picture,” Ms Sullivan said.

Ms Sullivan also began noticing that people often use text as their main mode of communication. The texts, however, aren’t long paragraphs; people try to use as few words as possible. Emojis make that easier.

“So if you can send a picture and just say, ‘Hey, thanks for the wonderful night last night,’ with an emoji or a cross or any kind of emoji, it’s like you immediately understand what that person is trying to say,” she said.

To access Sullivan’s emojis, people have to open another application, unlike Unicode’s emojis, which are embedded into the operating system. But she said that doesn’t stop people from using them.

Religious emojis are extremely limited for now, but there is a free option for Jews called Emojew that has Passover-related emojis.

Unicode is the character coding system that gives a unique number for every character, allowing different companies to have access and the support for universal emojis.

Earlier this year technology giant Apple revealed a plan to bring some cultural diversity to its emojis.

Apple was asked by email why there wasn’t more cultural diversity when it comes to Apple’s emojis.

“We agree with you. Our emoji characters are based on the Unicode standard, which is necessary for them to be displayed properly across many platforms,” said Apple’s Vice President of Worldwide Corporate Communications, Katie Cotton.

“There needs to be more diversity in the emoji character set, and we have been working closely with the Unicode Consortium in an effort to update the standard.”