From my own personal experience this is extremely true. A while back I made myself a custom keyboard  which can enter lots of characters, mostly for linguistic tasks. I didn’t intend to start using it for things outside linguistics, but before long I was using it everywhere — and my inventory of available characters expanded correspondingly. I started to use curvy quotes and em/en-dashes in all my writings (even in this post!), and — more topically — I started using Unicode symbols in my programming, when possible. I don’t use them too much, mostly because there’s little need for them, but in scientific tasks it’s really useful to be able to type e.g. ‘λ’ instead of ‘wavelength’. I predict that as Unicode symbols become easier to input, programming languages will indeed start to utilise them more — the limiting factor is keyboard layout. (Indeed we can already see the start of this process in Julia, Raku and Haskell.)
I started using a Compose key under Linux five or six years ago. I have progressively accumulated fairly extensive customisation in my ~/.XCompose. (e.g. Compose+;+; = ‘, Compose+"+" = ”, Compose+"+` = ″, Compose+z+Space = ZWSP, Compose+Space+' = NARROW NO-BREAK SPACE, Compose+++1 = THUMBS UP SIGN), Compose+-+-+= = −, Compose+l+* = λ.) Some are of my own division, and some (like Greek letters) are copied from Vim’s digraphs which I had used commonly before setting up a Compose key. I consistently type exactly what I mean. (If I type a straight quote, I meant a straight quote.)
My last laptop ended up being a Surface Book; had WinCompose not existed, I wouldn’t have been willing to shift to Windows.
If your audience is mostly programmers then just use `*`
If your audience is physicists or mathematicians then `×` or `·` may be a better fit.
When turning a math expression into code, it is often handy if the code looks a lot like the expression. Even better if you can just copy and paste it. It's hard to translate an expression wrong if you aren't translating it at all.