Android arguably does a lot of things better than iOS, thanks to the open and flexible platform, but one way in which it lags behind is in the all-important area of emoji. Yes, we're serious.
Google has transformed the common smiley faces that everyone knows from text messages and chat apps and turned them into strange, bulbous yellow creatures, which not only look goofy but can muddle the message as well. Luckily, Google is finally moving past that awkward phase for its default emoji.
Android 7.0 N is on the horizon, and the second developer preview is available today for recent Nexus device owners. Along with support for the Vulkan 3D rendering API and some new launcher shortcuts, the update brings emoji Unicode 9 support with redesigned graphics - as seen here.
Google admits that they're ditching a "generic look in favor of a more human-looking design," and showcased examples that spotlight a dramatic shift in style for Android N's smileys and activity emoji. And with Unicode 9 support, they'll also offer the kind of skin tone options seen in iOS, along with key emoji like bacon and the face palm.
Emoji formatting might seem like a small, silly thing - and to large extent, it is. After all, almost none of us are likely to choose a mobile OS based on how the smiley faces look. But considering how many of us use emoji on a daily basis, it's nice to see Google reevaluate the oft-derided look of their existing graphics.
Most of us will have to wait until Android N actually ships for everyone, but anyone who is already in the public developer preview can update to the second version now. And if you have a compatible device and don't mind dealing with unfinished software, you can sign up now and get started.