Since the birth of the emoji legacy in 1999, these symbols have gone through numerous design upgrades. Not to forget the regular emoji releases that update almost every year and add to the gross number of emojis on all digital platforms. What started as a small set of symbols, has now grown into a whopping list of over 1800 illustrations!
Emojis used to be an added feature that came with different social media platforms back in the day. They were just there. They didn’t have much to do with and much to say about our individual lives as humans and as working people. Emojis were merely animated little graphic icons that were and weren’t part of our communication online.
Today, post the 2020 health crisis triggered by the pandemic, billions of employers and employees have taken to WFH as the norm, while the non-working population has resorted to virtual platforms to stay connected and emotionally steady as a manner of keeping up with the new normal. In such a digital lifestyle, emojis have come to have an entirely new meaning.
World Emoji Day
Before there are any jaw-drops, yes, there is a World Emoji Day. A day completely dedicated to these small but impactful symbols. Celebrated on the 17th of July, World Emoji Day is indeed awaited by many emoji enthusiasts, including the Microsoft Fluent Design team.
The designers at Microsoft are set to launch something big this World Emoji Day. Better emojis are just the baseline of the event. Along with five new emojis, Microsoft is also revamping the list of all 1800+ emojis across all platforms and devices.
Here’s what you can expect from this emoji design showdown.
3D Emoji Designs
Yep! Our mundane 2D emojis will soon be three-dimensional in the coming months. Some of these new, renovated emojis are already available on Flipgrid. The rest will catch up in the coming weeks.
Platforms like Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Teams look forward to a Christmas emoji upgrade. Other virtual networks like Microsoft Outlook and Yammer will receive the update during and throughout 2022.
The emojis we’ve had up until now have always been made to blend in. Nothing about them particularly stood out. It’s there, it’s visible, but it’s not visually compelling.
The new Microsoft revamp will bring about emojis that are not just bright in appearance but also symbols designed with better and bolder colors. The saturation applied to the upcoming emojis is sure to be visually pleasing and aesthetically satisfying.
Building on the fact that it’s us, humans, who use emojis, it would be inauthentic and unfair to design emojis that are picture-perfect when the users themselves are made to be perfectly imperfect.
Brace up for emojis that may not be as perfect as you may like them to be. These designs might tickle the perfectionist in you and cause momentary discomfort. But, worry not. They’re only human. Imperfect circles, among other details, aim to capture the physical essence of humanity to its fullest.
It’s possible that emojis users may have read between the lines of emoji designs. Here lies a simple truth of consistency. All emojis have some amount of design in common. They’re all connected by a common icon system that deems all symbols to seem different, while foundationally, they’re all designed with the same idea.
Each of the designs in the new and refreshed emoji list will involve simple geometric shapes that are no more complicated than just circles and semi-circles. Minimalism has its own power when it comes to designs and these simple yet chunky designs can prove to be quite engaging, while they stay animatedly relevant and interesting.
Clippy is Back!
Remember Clippy the adorable paperclip? He used to just hang around and help out as and when we needed him on Microsoft Word back in 2003. Guess what? Microsoft is bringing him back. Not as an MS Word assistant, but as an emoji! The boring paperclip emoji will now be replaced by the one and the only Clippy!
Concept Sketches For New Emojis
Besides, disclosing news about the upgrade before time, Microsoft has also put forth five concept sketches for the new emojis that are to arrive. Each sketch is quite literally a sketch of our new normal. They illustrate our hybrid work-life and describe our present reality.
Working while parenting, attending meetings with only a presentable upper half, multi-tasking while working, ‘No Camera Day’ and ‘You’re on Mute’ are the concept sketches of the upgrade. Each sketch is something that WFH professionals, especially, can resonate with. The focus here is to convey the current reality of the world in the best and subtly humorous way possible.
Apart from emojis, Microsoft is also introducing a whole range of themes, illustrations, backgrounds, and a lot more just for Microsoft 365.
The Idea Behind it All
It’s only natural to question. Why, though? What’s the whole point of upgrading something as sidelined as emojis? How does it matter if they’re 3D or 2D, bold or dull, saturated or faded? How does any of that matter?
The answer lies in those questions themselves. It’s time we wake up to the fact that emojis, in the present day are a lot more influential than we’d believe them to be. They’re trendsetting, communicative, expressive, and they’re the stitch in the time.
In a reality that’s tearing apart for reasons of its own, emojis hold together our ever-distancing communication. They’re on the journey to becoming an innate part of our virtual dialects. And when something is on such a journey, upgrades are only milestones. Emojis, today, express what words fall short of. They remind us of our own humanity, personality and keep the show going even in the face of social distancing.
Will Emojis Become Professionally Acceptable?
The design researcher behind the emoji upgrade strongly believes in the power of play in every aspect of a person’s life, an adult’s life in particular. She iterates the significance of play in not only rebooting the mind in a workspace but also the brain’s ability to boost creativity, performance, and emotional and mental connection, with play.
As adults, we think of everything apart from money-making and adulting as child’s play. Hence, we stop growing in all the ways we’re meant to. Our brains begin to rust and fit into the rusting world around us. The vibrance of childhood is lost and much before that, play is thought of as something that’s unnatural to be pursued by a working and adulting professional.
In fact, play is one of the major reasons behind Microsoft’s massive emoji upgrade. The idea behind it all is to make emojis more playful, bright, vibrant, and interesting enough to keep communication casual and most of all, honest. Emotionally honest.
However, the question still remains if something as stimulating and engulfing as emojis will ever become an accepted facet of communication in a professional setup, or if it will continue being child’s play.