After using Apple’s emojis for such a long time, WhatsApp has finally unveiled its own emoji set for the first time. Appearing in the beta release of WhatsApp for Android, this new emoji set appears to be highly inspired by Apple’s designs.
WhatsApp looks to be taking the direction of Facebook and Twitter in using their own custom emoji set within the app. At a glance, these could be confused for Apple’s own emojis. It appears that the brief for this project may have been “take Apple’s emojis, and change them enough so we can call them our own”. Is that a bad thing? Perhaps not, given how change-averse most users can be.
In latest Android beta v2.17.364, WhatsApp introduced a new set of emojis that are its very own. They look like iOS and Android Oreo emojis and the whole set appears more cartoonish than iOS, which itself is a little more cartoonish than it used to be.
There is a precedent for WhatsApp designing its own emojis. WhatsApp was first to implement the middle finger emoji when no vendor had Unicode 7 support, and briefly added an emoji for the Olympic Rings.
In fact, it’s been clear for quite a while that WhatsApp could implement their own emoji set on Android if they wanted to, as the Apple images they use there had no native implementation. It was all custom already, and only the images needed changing.
With this beta release, WhatsApp is ahead of iOS native emoji support. Emoji support is included up to Emoji 5.0 which is the latest version approved by Unicode. In the past, WhatsApp would tend to include Apple’s new emojis a few months after they hit iOS.