Apple’s gun emoji has been modified, but not without heavy criticism. The mega factory phone producer has been urged to rethink its plan to convert the handgun emoji symbol into a water pistol icon. The Emojipedia website argued that the symbol could still appear as a lifelike gun in messages sent to non-iOS users. Apple made the change in the advent of a series of shootings in the United States.
Microsoft had also made several change, but announced this week that its toy gun symbol would be redesigned as a more realistic-looking firearm. The emoji character system allows companies to use slightly different designs of the same basic objects, signs or expressions.
“The thing is, emojis already look different on different platforms and it does cause confusion,” said Jeremy Burge, editor of Emojipedia. “When we’re dealing with guns and toys as a comparison, that’s a whole new level of problems that we have there.”
Mr Burge pointed in his blog that someone could send a message from an iOS device mentioning a water pistol – but that this could look like they were asking the recipient to bring a real weapon if that user did not have iOS.
The water pistol emoji, along with several other new icons, is available to a few users testing iOS 10, which will be more widely available in the autumn.
“Apple has the most prominent emoji set that people use,” said Mr Burge. “I think it has a high responsibility to be a bit cautious.” He has proposed that the firm could simply hide gun emojis from the keyboard altogether, instead of redesigning them. Mr Burge added that he had emailed Apple about the issue but had not yet received a reply.
Prior to this, there had been calls – including from a campaign called Disarm the iPhone – to remove the handgun icon from iOS devices. Speaking about the gun icon specifically, Microsoft stated that “The previous design did not map to industry designs or our customers’ expectations of the emoji definition.”
Both Apple and Microsoft have said they are working with the Unicode Consortium – the body that maintains lists of emojis across different platforms. In June, the consortium confirmed that a planned rifle emoji had been dropped from a series of new icons.