Emojis, I was skeptical. After all, we’d all been accustomed to using text-based emoticons for about a decade and they worked (reasonably) well. Most people, at least in my age group, had no difficult understanding expressions like :) and ;). If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it, right? And after all, having to access a special keyboard to type those image-based emojis didn’t even save you any taps — it requires at least two taps to switch the keyboard and then back again.

"> Emojis, I was skeptical. After all, we’d all been accustomed to using text-based emoticons for about a decade and they worked (reasonably) well. Most people, at least in my age group, had no difficult understanding expressions like :) and ;). If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it, right? And after all, having to access a special keyboard to type those image-based emojis didn’t even save you any taps — it requires at least two taps to switch the keyboard and then back again.

"> Emojis, I was skeptical. After all, we’d all been accustomed to using text-based emoticons for about a decade and they worked (reasonably) well. Most people, at least in my age group, had no difficult understanding expressions like :) and ;). If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it, right? And after all, having to access a special keyboard to type those image-based emojis didn’t even save you any taps — it requires at least two taps to switch the keyboard and then back again.

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Christoph Wagner

Freelance Software Developer

A Picture Says More Than a Thousand Words

08 March 2016

When Apple first introduced Emojis, I was skeptical. After all, we’d all been accustomed to using text-based emoticons for about a decade and they worked (reasonably) well. Most people, at least in my age group, had no difficult understanding expressions like :) and ;). If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it, right? And after all, having to access a special keyboard to type those image-based emojis didn’t even save you any taps — it requires at least two taps to switch the keyboard and then back again.

Well, sometimes it’s not about fixing something that’s not broken, but rather about creating new opportunities. Or at least, that’s what I discovered when one fine day, I was trying to organize my life by creating a bunch of to-do lists in Apple’s (then new) Reminders app. I can’t remember exactly what sparked this idea, but when contemplating what lists I needed and how to name them, it suddenly occurred to me that I could use emojis in the name, in order to make my lists easier to find.

Rather than having to read all the titles, it occurred to me, if I used descriptive emojis, all I would have to do is look at the pictures to quickly find the list I was looking for. And for some weird reason, looking at pictures seems to require less cognitive effort than reading a bunch of text.

image

After a few minutes of deliberation, I came up with the scheme on the left. The “To Do” list is my default list, which acts as an inbox — this is where I add new to-dos whenever I think of them. Siri uses that list as well, whenever I ask her to remind me of something. Every week, usually on Sundays, I go through that list and prioritize everything, moving the tasks for the upcoming week into the “This Week” list. Every morning, I pick out the tasks I want to accomplish that day and move them into the “Today” list.

Apart from that, I have a few more “special” lists, for things that are also to-dos, but not urgent or need scheduling. The “Eat” list, for instance, is where I save the name of restaurants I’m planning to try out some day. The “Listen” list is where I gather the names of musical artists and podcasts that I plan on checking out. I trust that the “Read” list needs no further explanation.

But it doesn’t stop here. Emojis can be used anywhere where you can type text, so I’ve started using them in the calendar app as well. For instance, when scheduling a phone call, I’ll put the “📞” emoji as the first character in the title, followed by the name of the person I’ll be talking to. If I have an online meeting, I use “💻” instead. For scheduled errands that require driving, “🚗” is a great choice. Meeting someone for a drink? “🍻” works great. You get the idea. And while it may seem like a childish idea at first, you only need to switch to the calendar’s week view to appreciate the power of these little pictures.

Even though I’ve been doing this for about a year now, I still find new, creative uses for emojis. For instance, one of my friends uses them in his git commit messages to indicate the type of commit (“🐛” for bugfix, “➕” for a new feature, “⬆️” for upgrading dependencies, “🚧” for work in progress, “👕” for linting code, etc.). Again, when looking at a single commit, this doesn’t seem to make any sense whatsoever, but you only have to take one step back and look at the commit log, and the value instantly becomes clear.

Have you found any creative uses for emojis? Let’s hear them!