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The use of emojis, those little digital images we sometimes use to breath life into the staid world of text communication, has been steadily growing with the proliferation of smartphones. But with the final release of the Apple Watch, emojis may finally take center stage in the way we communicate.
When Apple chief tech exec Kevin Lynch demonstrated texting on the Apple Watch today at an event in San Francisco, he showed a conversation he was having with his friend on WeChat. The friend suggested having dinner at a restaurant called Fig and Olive. Rather than key in a response, he picked a wacky picture of a cartoon giving the thumbs up sign.
Had he chosen not to respond with an emoji, Lynch would have had to dictate his response message to the watch. Now, we don’t know how well the dictation feature works on the Apple Watch. But even if it’s perfectly functional, who the hell is going to talk into their wrist?
Probably the same people who early adopted Bluetooth head pieces in the early 2000s. You know who I’m talking about. Those early adopters, all men with slicked back hair (perhaps a vestige of late ’90s fashion?), that were found in public talking really, really loudly into an ugly Bluetooth headset prominently displayed on their ear. There is a reason that you don’t see that anymore. For one, it was a public nuisance, and two, most people don’t want to be seen yelling into a device.
Enter the emoji, the digital hieroglyphics that, in many cases, can substitute for lettered language.
Already the emoji is gaining in popularity. In 2013, some 74 percent of people in the U.S. reported using emojis or stickers in text communications, according to an article by New York Magazine. In China, 82 percent people said they use digital characters. And while the emoji is on the rise, the Apple Watch could be the platform that pushes its popularity to the highest heights.
Digital conversation will need to evolve in order for people to effectively talk via the Apple Watch. The emphasis will be on short bursts of hyper-functional communication rather than extended conversations. Here, the emoji can play a vital role. For instance, let’s say your friend asks you what you want to do tonight. You can send them a dancing lady emoji, or a beer, or a steaming bowl of ramen. With 722 characters to choose from, you can say a lot without words.
It’s true that for more complex communication, emojis are not the most effective. However, that’s the moment you pull out your phone. Since the Apple Watch needs to be near a corresponding iPhone for the majority of its functions, full-fledged texting is still an option.
But the Apple Watch in general, for those who can afford it, will mean taking your phone out less, and emojis will definitely be the best vehicle for communication.
Now, if only emoji’s were searchable. …
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