Android's new EmojiCompat library allows owners of old devices to view emojis included in newer versions of the operating system. The new library allows developers to inject additional code into their applications that will render the appropriate emojis in all smartphones running Android 4.4 KitKat and up. This will reduce the instances wherein blank boxes take the place of emojis introduced in newer Android OS versions. The developers that already included the EmojiCompat library into their applications have two ways of adding backward-compatible emojis to render on previously unsupported devices. The first is the downloadable font configuration. This method refers to a specific component of the EmojiCompat library which allows the app to download a certain emoji once the application attempts to render it. The second method is the bundled font configuration, which already includes the emoji with the accompanying metadata, though this technique has the drawback of increasing the size of the application.
Every emoji has a corresponding metadata that the application and operating system uses to render the appropriate emoji glyph. In cases in which the application needs to show an emoji that is not supported by the device's operating system, it shows a blank box. This library solves that issue by replacing what would be the empty box by an EmojiSpan. After converting the characters into an EmojiSpan, the library then renders the correct emoji using a modified version of the Android Emoji Font.
Emoji incompatibility is on the list of issues associated with the fragmentation of the Android operating system. Despite Google's efforts to improve its platform and encourage its partner manufacturers to update their devices, the latest versions of the operating system, Android 7.0 and 7.1 Nougat, only account for little more than 11 percent of all active Android devices. Android Nougat brought 56 new emoji, which will be seen by almost 90 percent of Android users as blank boxes if not for the new library. As emoji become integral components of our daily communication, the inability of a device to show emoji may prevent a user from understanding the message that a person may be trying to convey. This recent move on Google's part helps alleviate that concern and it is now up to developers to ensure that their applications support the EmojiCompat library.