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Apple releases 100 new emoji, replaces gun with waterpistol (arstechnica.co.uk)
47 points by davb 533 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 42 comments

So they're using the same character space, and just changing the graphic to a squirtgun?

That'll go over well.

"Hey, after school we should sneak up and [squirtgun] John, Mary and Pete!" sent on an iOS devices will turn into "Hey, after school we should sneak up and [handgun] John, Mary and Pete!" on other devices.

One of these statements implies a prank. The other implies murder.

Maybe Apple should work with the Unicode Consortium to declare additional emoji, such as a squirtgun, so that they can drop the handgun emoji from their keyboard and replace it with the squirtgun.

As it stands now, they're just swapping the graphic of a lethal weapon with a children's toy and crossing their fingers that no horrific misunderstandings occur...

I agree with you, it adds ambiguity to the meaning. Can you imagine a court interpreting two completely different meanings based on sender/receiver device graphics?

The original definition is actually "PISTOL" (U+1F52B) with alternative definitions as "GUN." Apple isn't making the world a safer place by pretending guns/pistols aren't a reality.

What next, remove the word "pistol" from their spellchecker?

> What next, remove the word "pistol" from their spellchecker?

That, and any other ungood words. Helps prevent crimethink.

So, Orwell was a bit off and Newspeak is actually going to be emoji based.

Are they ACTUALLY replacing U+1F52B with this new graphic, or are they using a new codepoint? Because at least OSX 10.11 has a real gun/pistol in U+1F52B. You'll even get mixups if an iOS10/OSX10.12 user sends an emoji to an iOS9/OSX10.11 user in that case.

I just created a note containing the Pistol emoji on macOS 10.11 (old school pistol) and it shows up as a squirt gun on iOS 10 beta 4, so it seems they are reusing the same code point.

That's crazy.

I'm not sure this is that big a deal considering the default Windows representation of the pistol emoji has always been a toy gun rather than a realistic depiction of a firearm. It looks more like a ray-gun to me rather than a water pistol, so you're unlikely to say "we should [ray-gun] John after school", but there's clearly opportunity for misinterpretation if you're trying to communicate with these symbols.

But I would have thought the obvious solution was to avoid using emoji as a form of communication. They're always going to vary from one platform to the next, so you never really know exactly what the recipient is going to see.

> I'm not sure this is that big a deal considering the default Windows representation of the pistol emoji has always been a toy gun rather than a realistic depiction of a firearm.

Except that they're changing it to a handgun with the Anniversary Update: http://emojipedia.org/pistol/

That's good to know - I think that's a sensible move, and I agree with those that think Apple's change is a bit silly. However, my point still stands that emoji have always been a source of miscommunication [1] and will continue to be so, with or without this change.

[1] http://www.dailydot.com/debug/emoji-miscommunicate/

The gun is facing the opposite direction, so it would be "get shot by John, Mary and Pete".

I really detest how much people are messing with Unicode standards. So much room for misinterpretation as people send emojis that look totally different on their phone as compared to what shows up on the recipient's phone.

Oh no you don't!

One of the reasons that putting Emoji into the Unicode character set is silly is that anyone is free to use/make their own font to render them however they want. If the meaning of a message changes because of the font being used, then the sender (and, by proxy, their OS's developers) shouldn't have used text for such things in the first place.

Making short-sighted engineering decisions doesn't give anyone leverage to dictate how I display text on my devices.

On a related note, the whole business around "racist" or "sexist" emoji is just as ridiculous. Unicode dictates things like "Construction Worker"; if you want that to display as male, female, black, white, cat, dog, alien or whatever then just select an appropriate font (or blame the OS/font developer for gender/race bias). The answer is not to add white-male-construction-worker, black-male-construction-worker, white-female-construction-worker, etc.

The idea of race/gender modifiers is better, but at that point you might as well make a paint program with a colour picker and a "flood fill" tool.

> anyone is free to use/make their own font to render them however they want

Yes, and you could make a font to render the "a" character as "g". It doesn't mean that the Man is oppressing Apple by making them render "a" as "a" in their devices, and neither is Apple free to render any letter as any other, as they see fit. Standards are standards for that exact reason, and that's what Unicode is.

Apple is rendering the gun symbol as a gun. That's very different from rendering the letter "a" as the letter "g", which are distinct symbols.

Plus the fact that the only 'meaning' of characters like "a", "g", etc. is to represent themselves as distinguished from the other characters (which is taken to its logical conclusion in binary: each symbol represents itself as distinguished from the other one). Hence replacing an "a" with a "g" is to entirely replace the complete meaning of the symbol.

What Apple's done may, possibly, somewhat change some of the, already ambiguous, meaning of the gun symbol.

BTW, I wasn't trying to imply that Apple may be 'oppressed' by "the Man". I just don't want to see a future change to the Unicode standard mandating that particular symbols be rendered into particular arrangements of pixels, which I could certainly imagine the likes of Apple et al pushing for in order to work around their self-induced problems.

>Apple is rendering the gun symbol as a gun. That's very different from rendering the letter "a" as the letter "g", which are distinct symbols.

It's actually referred to as "REVOLVER".

If they replaced the car emoji with a helicopter, would you defend that since they represented a vehicle symbol with a vehicle?

A water gun and a revolver are about as different as a sedan and a helicopter...

Unicode describes the character as:

"A gun emoji, more precisely a pistol. A weapon that has potential to cause great harm. This type of firearm is commonly held by police officers."


EDIT: However, I am not sure how official is this source. unicode.org simple says its a "Pistol".

What was the designer thinking that they came up with a hairy heart?!

They probably misinterpreted a shaded heart as having hairs instead of just being darker. http://www.fileformat.info/info/unicode/char/1f49b/index.htm

No, I saw, but that didn't help my confusion at all. The shaded heart looks very obviously like someone had to dither shading into a 1-bit drawing, but the Google icon is just surreal. I can only imagine it being a practical joke.

I love Rambutan?

It isn't messing with Unicode to introduce new characters, I'm afraid. Language and communication tools evolve over time, and people clearly enjoy communicating using emoji, so itnseems natural that standardisation is a sensible approach.

He is talking about replacing existing characters with different ones.

Political correctness is reaching new heights of absurdity.

Surely our children are safer now /s

This is just a PR exercise.

Even so, it's indicative of the current political climate, and it's just as disheartening.

Bomb is ok though...

I'm surprised they're not changing the eggplant emoji as well...

If you outlaw gun emoji, only outlaws will have gun emoji.

I don't see how changing the handgun to a squirtgun could possibly end well. With the ability to push through Pride and gender-equality related emoji - not to mention shutting down the rifle emoji - you think Apple would be able to get the Unicode Consortium to add in a new codepoint for a squirtgun and then just drop the handgun from their keyboard.

As a PR move, though, it's pretty smart.

Well, if they went about it the sensible way, some articles might be written as "Unicode saves the day and solves gun violence" instead of "Apple saves the day and solves gun violence".

Please note that the Unicode standard does not precisely specify the design or rendering of glyphs. It establishes mapping, encoding, etc.

This is a feature. Otherwise you would not be able to subtitute a new font to render your Unicode glyphs.

Vendors are free to create new glyph designs, and you are free to hate them for it.

The Unicode standard does specify explicitly that U+1F52B stands for pistol (handgun, revolver), so while you are free to replace it with whatever you want, replacing it with a water pistol means you are purposely creating ambiguity where non existed.

For a vendor of operating systems that is not very responsible behaviour.

I disagree. Again I say that the description is deliberately brief, to allow some latitude on the part of the implementer.

> you are free to replace it with whatever you want

No, with a pistol.

You seem to be arguing that a "water pistol" is not a "pistol". I agree not all pistols are water pistols, it is also true that not all pistols are revolvers.

If you choose to depict a pistol that is NOT a revolver, I think we would agree this still satisfies the standard. I think that a water pistol is a pistol, I think it is stretch to argue otherwise.

> not very responsible behaviour

That is a stretch.

I'm used to the government (trying to) taking away our guns but having a private corporation do it feels like a level worse. Sure it's just a bunch of pixels that is the cousin of a poop symbol but it feels wrong.

That article opened up first a modal prompt from "mega viral something something" and then redirected me to a page that urged to download some critical update to my iPhone.

I love drive-by ads on usually somewhat trusted sites.

And then people wonder why ad-blockers are becoming ever more popular...

Hi. Do you have any more info on that? A screenshot maybe? And ideally the URL that's being called. Will help us find the bad ad (if there is indeed one).

I sent you email to the email found on your site http://www.mrseb.co.uk/

Seems a little disingenuous to call out Apple on the gun emoji in the headline. You have to read all the way to the end before you see:

> Microsoft's pistol emoji is also a toy gun, but the icon remains lethal-looking on other platforms including Google's Android.

I consider unicode dead. We wanted a simple way to expand characters from 7 bit to 16 bit and instead got a horrendous mess, complete with childish toy icons in.

The whole thing needs scrapping and doing properly

When you state "The whole thing needs scrapping and doing properly" you should probably remember that Unicode didn't just magically appear one night. A lot of very distinguished and hard-working people have put in a great deal of effort to build a standard that works, and is supported extensively.

You may believe you could do a better job, but I suspect you're only looking at the technical implementation rather than the politics of what it takes to define a standard everyone supports. The things you think makes unicode a mess are almost certainly the results of many compromises that, if they hadn't been made, would mean there wouldn't be a standard. That would be far worse.

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