While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has dampened enthusiasm for event days in 2020, today is World Emoji Day, which aims to celebrate those small, cartoonish characters than have now become a significant part of the way people communicate.
Indeed, according to research, some 92% of people have used, and/or regularly now use, emojis in their messaging. Many people who were once opposed to adding smiley faces and the like to enhance their comments now see the utility, and that’s lead to platforms like Facebook, Twitter och LinkedIn all providing quick emoji responses, in the form of Reactions on posts, to make it easier for their users to communicate, quickly and effectively, often via smaller, mobile keyboards.
Given this, whether you like them or not, emojis are significant. And marking World Emoji Day 2020, Facebook, Google and Apple have all released new info regarding their emoji options.
First off, Facebook has upgraded its default emoji pack in Messenger with new animations.
The upgraded animations look pretty slick. Facebook has experimented with various animations for its Reactions and other emoji sets, and that seems like the next level. Facebook-owned WhatsApp also recently launched animated stickers within chats as part of Facebook’s broader plan to integrate its messaging platforms.
Google’s also shared a preview of new emoji characters, which will be made available with the release of Android 11.
Som förklarat av Google:
“Hit that piñata or bang on the long drum to celebrate. Send an anatomical heart when the love is so real, so raw. Or perhaps you’ll identify with one of the new animals, like a super cute bison, an eager beaver or a polar bear that just needs a little love. There are also new food emoji, like a tamale (nom nom), a boba tea sure to make you thirsty (“black milk tea, boba, 30 percent sugar please”) and even a teapot for those who felt the “hot beverage” emoji (☕) was simply not “tea time” enough.”
The anatomical heart seems a bit unnecessary. But maybe that’s just me.
Google’s also looking to add a new emoji bar for Android devices, which will make it easier for users to add emoji characters in their messages.
“With a growing set of emoji options, and an over 40% rise in the use of emoji during shelter in place, it’s important that you can quickly and easily find and send just the right one. To do this, we’re rolling out a quick access emoji bar to Gboard beta today, and to all Gboard Android users in the coming months. Soon you’ll be able to send not just one, but five red-hearts when you want your friend to know how much you wish you could be there for them.”
So, essentially, it’s Google’s answer to Reactions, but it’ll be universally available when users are typing in any app.
Also on the new emoji train, Apple has shared a preview of upcoming emojis that will be added to iOS.
You’ll note that these are the same as Google’s Android set, just different versions. That’s because any new emoji characters need to be approved by de Unicode Consortium, a nonprofit organization which maintains emoji standards and guidelines. Whenever a new emoji is added, it comes via the UC, and is then translated into the characters that you see on your device.
This ensures that messages can be sent between devices, for example, with reference code for each image built into the respective operating systems. They just look a bit different.
Enligt Mac Rumors, the new updates will include pinched fingers, new animals, and, again ‘anatomical heart and lungs’. Honestly, I don’t see why people would want that, but there’s clearly some use case.
In addition to this, Apple has added new headwear options to its Memoji characters on iOS 14.
As noted, whether you like them or not, emoji characters have clearly become a significant element in the modern communicative process, with most people now using them, at least in some form, within their digital interactions.
As such, it’s worth noting the latest emoji trends, and maybe celebrating by adding a couple of emojis to your updates today.
Iran i nya internettillslag för att motverka demonstranter
Activists have expressed alarm the restrictions could allow the authorities to carry out repression ‘under the cover of darkness’ – Copyright AFP –
Iranian authorities have imposed tough and targeted restrictions on the use of the internet in a bid to impede protesters gathering and prevent images of crackdowns on their demonstrations reaching the outside world, observers say.
Activists have expressed alarm that the restrictions, also affecting Instagram which until now has remained unblocked in Iran and is hugely popular, could allow the authorities to carry out repression “under the cover of darkness”.
The protests erupted a week ago over the death in Tehran of Mahsa Amini, 22, following her arrest by the notorious morality police. They first erupted in her northern home province of Kurdistan before spreading nationwide.
Internet access monitor Netblocks described the access cuts as the most “severe internet restrictions” in Iran since the deadly crackdown on protests in November 2019, when the country experienced an unprecedented near-complete internet shutdown.
It says that mobile data networks have been cut — although there are signs of a return to connectivity — and there have been severe regional restrictions of access to Instagram and WhatsApp.
“It’s significantly different to what we saw in November 2019. It’s not as near total and complete as it was back then but more sporadic,” said Mahsa Alimardani, senior Iran researcher for freedom of expression group Article 19.
“But there are definitely a lot of disruptions and shutdowns happening,” she told AFP, while emphasising people were still managing to connect to filtered networks through VPNs.
– ‘Under cover of darkness’ –
Alimardani said Iranian authorities could be wary of the effect of a total internet shutdown on the economy as well as daily life issues like online medical appointments. They were also falling back on the National Information Network, an autonomous infrastructure Iran wants to develop as a homegrown internet, she said.
She said that the restrictions had “added hurdles” to the publishing of videos of the protests but that they are “still coming out”.
Videos posted on social media have included viral images of kvinnor burning their headscarves and demonstrators tearing down images of the Islamic republic’s leadership, and also security forces firing on protesters.
During Iran’s November 2019 protest wave sparked by a rise in fuel prices, activists argue that the internet shutdown allowed the authorities to carry out bloody repression largely hidden from the world.
Amnesty International says 321 people were killed then but it emphasises this only includes confirmed fatalities and the real toll may be much higher.
The rights group said it was now “gravely concerned about Iranian authorities disrupting access to internet and mobile networks” urging world leaders to take urgent action pressuring Iran “to stop killing and injuring more protesters under the cover of darkness.”
New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) director Hadi Ghaemi said that “the potential for massive bloodshed now is real”.
“The government has blocked internet access because it wants to prevent people from sending evidence of the state’s atrocities to the outside world,” he said.
– ‘Stifle free expression’ –
Instagram head Adam Mosseri has expressed concern over the cuts while WhatsApp, which is also owned by social media giant Meta, insisted it was not behind any access cuts and would “do everything in our technical power to maintain our services”.
Secure messaging service Signal confirmed it remained blocked in Iran and encouraged users outside to set up a proxy server to help people connect.
The blocking of major platforms by Iran in recent years — including Facebook, Twitter, Telegram, YouTube and TikTok — had left Instagram and WhatsApp as the two most widely used social media apps in Iran.
State media reports confirmed that officials had ordered access to the two services to be restricted.
Observers have also noted a regional targeting of the internet cuts, especially in the Kurdistan region where some of the fiercest clashes have taken place.
“Disruptions to the internet are usually part of a larger effort to stifle the free expression and association of the Iranian population, and to curtail ongoing protests,” the UN’s panel of human rights experts said, describing the restrictions as the third such shutdown in Iran within a year.
“State mandated internet disruptions cannot be justified under any circumstances,” they added.
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