Android fragmentation can have a negative effect on how users see emoji, but Twitter has a solution to make things work for everyone. Rather than continuing to rely on Google’s emoji pack, which can vary from one Android version to another, Twitter has decided to introduce its own custom emoji library to ensure that all users have access to the same emoji pack. Otherwise, users running older versions of Android often don’t have access to or can’t even see newer emoji, instead only seeing tiny boxes with an “X” on them when someone sends a modern emoji via the microblogging platform.
That’s because older Android versions don’t support a number of newer emoji, so they can’t even display it properly. Twitter’s own emoji library will make more emoji available to users running older Android versions from KitKat to Nougat, estimated to improve the experience of at least 50-percent of Twitter users. The change should roll out to more users later this week, so the vast majority should soon be able to see the same emoji pack on Twitter. For many, it will likely mean seeing and being able to access some emoji that were previously unavailable for their Android system version.
Twitter’s own custom emoji pack is called “Twemoji” and it’s based on Google’s EmojiCompat library. This way, instead of seeing emoji from one vendor such as Samsung, users will see Twemoji regardless of their Android device OEM or system version. At this point, more than a third of all Android users are running an OS version from 2014 or before, and these versions don’t support any new characters. Android Oreo, released last year, currently powers a mere six-percent of Android devices, further illustrating how deep Android fragmentation is. Low-end and mid-range devices may not pack the necessary hardware specs to support a newer software version, but at least for Twemoji they don’t have to. Google is expected to eventually come up with a solution to address Android fragmentation but some third-party apps are apparently tired of waiting, especially when it comes to providing a consistent experience of basic features such as emoji.