Do you like to flavor your texts and other messages with cool and clever emojis? If so, you may wonder how Google cooks up the emojis for Android. Well, wonder no longer because Google's emoji interpreter has spilled the beans on the emoji creation process in an interview with CNBC.


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Jennifer Daniel is Google's director of emoji for Android. Although the industry group Unicode Consortium decides on the actual emoji concepts and content, Daniel interprets those concepts to determine how the emojis can fit the Google style and then designs them toward that goal, according to CNBC.

Though seemingly silly, emojis have become a hit in the messaging world. Their immense popularity seems to signal our need to express ourselves visually. Pictures worth a thousand words also expedite communications when we're short on time. Or they could just be a way for us to have fun with our fellow texters. Whatever the reason, emoji design is serious business as the right emoji can become a beloved character while the wrong one can invite fierce criticism and complaints.

The process for creating an emoji starts with the Unicode Consortium, a group composed of Google, Apple, Huawei, and Netflix, among other companies. Anyone can submit an idea for an emoji. The job of the Consortium is to vote on each proposal to decide which emojis make the cut. After the winners are chosen, Jennifer Daniel takes on the challenging task of figuring out how and why each emoji should be designed with the Android audience in mind.

One challenge is the way Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and other companies that incorporate emojis try to interpret and customize each one according to their own styles and tastes. And in this regard, the companies don't talk much to each other, according to Daniel.

"There's not much conversation, but we're trying to do more of that," she told CNBC. "We're both [Google and Apple] on the Unicode subcommittee for emoji, but those discussions are largely about content, experience, and file-size, not design."

Another challenge lies in issues that are both personal and political. As emojis are used by all types of people all around the world, they have to somehow appeal to everyone yet also relate to each of us as individuals. That means emojis need to represent men and women of different colors, ethnicities, and lifestyles. For example, Daniel said that people have been asking for biracial couples more than any other type of emoji.

"We're getting to the point where recognizing yourself in your keyboard is more of an expectation," she told CNBC.

Yet another challenge is the strong feedback an emoji can elicit from people. In a recent tweet, Daniel said that for the second beta of Android P, Google removed the egg from its salad emoji to make it a more inclusive vegan salad. But that move fired up a lot of people complaining that Google's action was a feeble attempt to make sure it wasn't offending the vegan crowd.

"People have very strong opinions on emoji," Daniel said. "You'll see people using the emoji as a physical manifestation of their point of view."

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  1. Google's emoji designer reveals the challenges involved in creating the right emojis.
  2. Technical, personal, and political issues can all factor into the creation of an emoji.

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Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books - "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time" and "Teach Yourself VISUALLY LinkedIn."