Only 4% of Android users can see the newest emoji, but this isn't the real problem

With the release of Android 7.0 Nougat, Google had the first major OS to support the newest Unicode 9 standard. This meant the addition of 72 new emoji, along with skin tone modifiers, and later, with the 7.1 update, new professions and gendered emoji, as detailed in the Emoji 4.0 update draft. While many would applaud the company's openness toward diversifying the tiny symbols, the sad reality of Android's software updates soon kicked in.

In a detailed blog post on their website, Emojipedia, a major resource of information about the phenomenon, compared users' ability to use the newest available emoji and found that less than 4 percent of its visitors' phones run Nougat, which is the only release of the OS to support the newer standard. Compared to the site's iOS statistics, which show 84 percent of Apple devices running iOS 10, the difference in adoption rates is staggering. Looking at those numbers and the source they come from, one might argue that emoji aren't really that big of a deal, and, in fact, the regular updates to the standard may be getting out of hand, but this isn't really the point of this article.

The real problem, and also the reason for the lack of widespread support of newer emoji on Android, is also one of the platform's biggest problems since its inception – software updates. Since emoji are part of the regularly updated Unicode standard, support for them needs to be built at the OS level, making their distribution to older versions cumbersome and, ultimately, not worth developers' time. This is true for both Android and iOS, yet Apple's platform doesn't suffer from the same problem nearly as much. The reason for this is simple – save for the Pixel, Google doesn't build its own phones, and as a result doesn't control the distribution of updates, unlike Apple, their main competitor in this industry, which has exclusive control over its devices' software. This, combined with OEMs' affinity towards OS customization, makes each new Android release painfully slow, as each custom feature needs to be ported, tested, and eventually distributed to users, which is a lengthy and arduous process. And this is the best-case scenario, as more often than not manufacturers simply choose to abandon older devices rather than update them. And, most recently, another big problem was Google's insistence on making Vulkan support mandatory for all Nougat devices, rendering a huge amount of phones “incompatible” with the update.

This problem, however, isn't just a matter of users missing out on a few new features – not providing software updates is also irresponsible and user-hostile. Segregating the user base is problematic for both developers and users, forcing apps that rely on a particular API or feature to be either crippled or simply not available on earlier OS versions. Ending a device's support usually means the OEM won't provide even the most basic of security updates, putting users at risk in a time where the threat of hacking is becoming more serious by the day. From a business standpoint, it's understandable for a company to cut its losses and cease support of a given device, particularly in cases where sales expectations haven't been met. However, by making such decisions, vendors risk eroding consumer trust, as public reactions to such moves tend to be wildly negative.

An easy solution to this problem, however, doesn't exist. Google can't just force OEMs to update, as this would result in one of two things: either the burden of supporting each and every device will fall on Google's shoulders – a task pretty much impossible to handle by a single company, no matter its size; or the responsibility would be that of the vendors, who will quickly find a simpler and cheaper alternative, a number of which have existed through the years, but have ultimately failed precisely because of Android's no-strings-attached policy. The best the company can do right now is lead by example and support their devices like users expect them to. Judging by their track record, however, two years of guaranteed OS updates is the best they can do, and, unfortunately, this has become something of an industry standard. The only major outlier is Apple, with its latest iOS 10 supporting devices all the way back to the iPhone 5, which came out almost five years ago. So while many would disagree with the company's walled garden approach, in this particular case it actually works in users' favor, something more manufacturers should strive for.

source: Emojipedia via Android Central



1. DaftPunk

Posts: 31; Member since: Apr 24, 2014

first world problems.

25. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

yeah, because emoji is really important part of human life /s

27. curiousDillan

Posts: 46; Member since: May 26, 2015

Why? Do you honestly believe no one in the third world has a mobile phone? Maybe you should go see a bit more of the world before you make stupid comments.

2. willard12 unregistered

" Save for the Pixel, Google doesn't build its own phones." Save for the iPhone, Apple doesn't build its own phones. PA can create as many articles(ads) on this , but judging by market share, consumers have decided what is and what is not important. If it is absolutely critical for someone to run an android OS for five years, then there is no need to "save for the Pixel", a consumer simply has to buy it, just like they can buy an iphone. Also, to create a long article on mostly amount to changes in an OS change log without acknowledging that in ios, older devices get very few of the features from the update. It also makes no mention of the amount of phones that are bricked or crash as a result. So, is it better to have the latest niche app or kid-emoji if you have a 4 year old device? Or, is someone with a 4 year old device simply looking for something that works and doesn't crash? Bottom line, as mentioned in the article in a back-handed manner, if the latest version of android is critical you, then buy a Pixel. Problem solved.

13. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2361; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

You tried to use his quote against him but it doesn't make any sense. The quote "save for the Pixel, Google doesn't build their own phones" means that the only Google-produced hardware line is the Pixel. Apple doesn't make any other phone but the iPhone, so your quote doesn't make any sense to say outside of the iPhone Apple doesn't make any of their own phones because there is no other phones running iOS. (Also technically in both cases they use a third party manufacturer to actually "build" their own devices: HTC and Foxconn). And I think that while you can argue that people don't really care about the latest software and that's why they still are buying Android regardless of this, I don't think it's necessarily an argument you WANT to make. What I mean is that while it is true people buy Android devices knowing full well they won't get the latest software for months, it doesn't mean that Android users wouldn't still advocate or want timely software updates. In fact, if PhoneArena were to take a poll that asked Android users if they felt that improving how timely software updates is an important thing for manufacturers and carriers to focus on I would say that they would agree. Its especially important when you have these OEMs release a software update that has problems with it and it takes them weeks or months to produce a fix. As an Android user myself, I think it's important for them to continually focus on improving how software updates are handled and carriers should be held accountable. Finally, both Android and iOS devices have been shown to be excluded from certain features with new software updates. It's not just an exclusive problem for iOS.

14. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

"In fact, if PhoneArena were to take a poll that asked Android users if they felt that improving how timely software updates is an important thing for manufacturers and carriers to focus on I would say that they would agree". Then that poll will be pretty much futile, because just about any user will be able to vote -- iOS and Windows Mobile users, and not just Android users. The only way your suggested poll will be relevant here is if PA makes the poll accessible only by those browsing with an Android device... And I doubt PA would do that anytime soon.

15. mikehunta727 unregistered

It doesnt even matter if some users of Android are not really aware of the benefit of timely updates, it is important and needed, there really shouldn't be excuses why some devices take over 6 months to recieve patches sometimes . Williards comment makes very little sense and is pretty poor logic. "Oh you care about latest software version? Buy a pxel", You dont or shouldnt have to care to still recieve the latest updates in a timely matter, people always would like improved features/bug fixes/security fixes if you gave them a simple explanation of the patch, to the technologically illiterate Also iOS devices experiencing some issues when updating/etc is absolutely not unique to iOS and its ecosystem at all. This happens essentially on every mass used platform including Windows and Mac OS and others Pretty much what Dr. phil said, nailed it on the money

16. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

"You dont or shouldnt have to care to still recieve the latest updates in a timely matter" Okay... If I don't or shouldn't have to care to receive the latest updates, then what's the point of sending me updates in the first place? If I care about updates, I know what to do.

17. mikehunta727 unregistered

You missed the point. Even if you were technologically illiterate and "didnt" care for updates because you don't really even know what it entails, it doesnt excuse OEM's to not send out the update. Oems should be issuing out patches as soon as possible once released by Google, or drop the patch weeks after Google, not 6 + months(over a year wait for certain devices) Most People say "oh my device works fine so what" well thats a really poor attitude because updates exist for a reason and are pretty important For instance in the January patch Google patched a really serious vulnerability in Android,less then 0.5% of active Android user base currently has this January patch Updates are important, esepcially the security patches, if they can get it out one month earlier then planned, thats one more month of being more secure/fully up to date. People should seriously really start taking their activities on the web/data on their devices/privacy/security much more seriously

18. mikehunta727 unregistered

Plus if one willfully and actively says "I don't care for updates or patches" well then that's just willful ignorance if you ask me

19. willard12 unregistered

You make absolutely no sense because you are intentionally conflating Operating System updates with patches and security updates. This article is, and only is, about the latest version of the operating system. Nothing else. So, let's stick to the lecture at hand. And yes, Google makes the Pixel and Apple makes the iphone. The outsourcing to 3rd parties for mass production is irrelevant to the point. And yes, if android updates are a priority for a consumer, they can and should buy a Pixel. This simple fact and logic can only not make sense to someone who is senseless. And yes , consumers/buyers/decision makers have decided what they are prioritizing. Phonearena polls aren't nearly as scientific as the actual voting that takes place at vendors and carriers daily. Also, on Android, if someone has a flagship device, and they think an update is important, they can likely get it. But, if we want to take polls, I'm guessing that people would overwhelmingly want a device with SD card expansion, low price, removable batteries, 550ppi, 3 day battery life. Now, show me that device. Better yet, show me the PA articles constantly harping on the importance of the SD card. For a group of writers who actually claim to travel aboard airplanes, it's odd to constantly see articles about 3.5mm jacks not being important, but having your device download the latest update as soon as the OS maker has it is critical. At some point, this writer, you, and a thousand other commenters will throw out lines about something being "rushed to the market" or "a lack of testing". Then, you'll come back and complain about an update taking too long. Lastly, you're pretending this is the first or 20th article a PA writer as done on Android vs iOS OS updates. Once "lag" was taken off the table, OS updates was really the only bow that Apple has in its quiver. And PA is going to constantly shoot that bow for them.

22. mikehunta727 unregistered

I actually do make a ton of sense, security gets patched also in OS updates, not just the monthly security patches, kernel gets updated in OS updates, etc. You are babbling for no reason and are going off for no reason about something pretty different now. My point was very clear and concise, that was it lol. It is valid and actually true "If someone on Android has a flagship device and they think an update is important, they can likely get it" No one disputed that at all, the point is about non flagship devices, but even flagship devices can take a while to get updates (over 6 months, sometimes almost a year in the past) Shouldn't have to have the latest and greatest flagships just to be near on the latest version of Android and also latest security patch was my point, which many of us Android enthusiast are aware of this. I'm not pretending shi*t lmao, I been lurking and reading PA for over 5 years now, their authors are inconsistent and almost paid to spew ridiculous sometimes

23. mikehunta727 unregistered

"At some point, this writer, you, and a thousand other commenters will throw out lines about something being "rushed to the market" or "a lack of testing". Then, you'll come back and complain about an update taking too long. " You haven't seen me complaining at all, I am quite aware what updates can do if rushed/bad mistake somewhere, you are mixing up updates being rushed and unpolished and unfinished vs the usual normal updates on most platforms that fixes and improves things. Just a loose shoot at me which failed. Stop trying to downplay the actual importance of getting updates in a decent time manner, you aren't helping anything by doing this

3. Landon

Posts: 1245; Member since: May 07, 2015

It really takes 747 words to write about something this pointless?

4. DaveElliott

Posts: 148; Member since: Sep 20, 2012

Other than security updates, this is overhyped. Unless a phone and its release software is crap, it probably will be okay for awhile without feature updates. You may not get the features that others have, but you probably will be okay at this point or you shouldn't have purchased the model. Whether my smiley face is yellow, black, white, or brown will probably not have someone misunderstanding the intent and thinking how insensitive I am.

5. sissy246

Posts: 7111; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Agree 100% I never care how soon I get the new update as long as my phone is running fine with what I am on and as long as I get security updates.

6. RoboticEngi

Posts: 1251; Member since: Dec 03, 2014

Who gives a f**k? I can make a smiley, and I know that just because it isn't politically correct, the person sending it racist or a school shooter anyway....

7. RoboticEngi

Posts: 1251; Member since: Dec 03, 2014

*sending it, isn't

8. SeminoleNation

Posts: 16; Member since: Dec 31, 2016

Only the iPhone and Google Pixel are worth buying nowadays. How are so many people still waiting months on end for something so simple as a software update? I hope people come to their senses in 2017. Bring an end to this BS please

9. sissy246

Posts: 7111; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

I will take slow update over those two phones. Mostly over the iphone.

10. SeminoleNation

Posts: 16; Member since: Dec 31, 2016

Have fun paying hundreds of dollars just to be left on the back burner. That seems awesome

11. kiko007

Posts: 7493; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

I think Samsung and BB have a decent update model. As long as security patches come on time, nothing else really matters ultimately. I'm an iPhone user I'm not being biased saying this.

12. tedkord

Posts: 17356; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Back burner? Even without updates, my phone does more than either of those. And, I don't even really like my S7 Edge, but it's just better.

24. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

and enjoy your new emoji

26. sissy246

Posts: 7111; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

My note 5 is running great on marshmallow so no I don't give a s**t about how fast I get a update. But I can see were apple fans care, they need updates to fix all the other updates.

20. fyah_king unregistered

Omg!! I will get an iPhone!!

21. civicsr2cool

Posts: 269; Member since: Oct 19, 2016

Why would you need to be on the latest Android version to have the newest emoji's? lol Custom TFF's and custom keyboards are available..

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.