Google becomes latest company following Apple’s lead on pistol emoji


Gun emoji from several companies
Phone and software companies are moving away from a realistic gun emoji to a harmless one.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Google today joined the movement replacing the gun emoji with a water pistol. A number of other companies already made the same move amid a growing awareness of gun violence.  

Apple started this trend several years ago when it exchanged the pistol emoji for a harmless pool toy in iOS 10.

Google’s attitude toward this emoji has taken an odd course. Back in 2013, its version was an 18th Century dueling pistol. but this was later replaced with a traditional handgun. Today, it became a bright orange squirt gun on phones running the stock version of Android.

Microsoft once used a sci-fi ray pistol, but now has a regular pistol. It and Facebook are just about the only holdouts, according to Emojipedia.

Both Samsung and Twitter went to squirt guns this year. Apple, of course, changed its emoji in 2016.

Change of gun emoji attitudes

Removing the pistol emoji likely causes some people to roll their eyes at what they consider ridiculous political correctness. To them, the gun emoji is an innocent part of a “just shoot me” message.

Others know how often the pistol is used in cyber bullying. Or to threaten women or minorities. That’s much harder to do with a colorful pool toy.

An emoji primer

When someone sends an emoji to a friend, the image isn’t transferred. Instead, Unicode numbers are sent. It’s up to the device to turn the number into a picture. And as discussed here, phone makers and various apps use different pictures.

So everyone need to be careful using the pistol emoji during this time of transition. A joking threat to squirt water on someone could look threatening on a device in which an actual picture of a gun appears.


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