Fine, my headline is an overstatement. But how can you not get excited about a much better emoji keyboard for your iPhone? Emoji++ doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel by adding a search engine for emojis, it is simply an improved layout compared to the default emoji keyboard.
Instead of having to go through pages of emojis, the keyboard gives you a single scrolling list organized by categories. Like in your address book with letters, if you want to scroll to a particular category, you can press the category on the right.
If you long press on an emoji, it will add this particular emoji to your favorite list for easy access. And finally, there is a recent list with your most recently used emojis.
“I’m in love with it. You don’t even have to think about how to use it! Apple should be face palming,” a heavy emoji user told me. That statement will only resonate with you if you care about emojis. But remember that emojis are probably the best way to talk with your 12-year-old niece.
People have been browsing through their pages of emojis for months or even years. Indie developer David Smith doesn’t try to reinvent the most common emoji use case, except with the favorite section. I enjoy comparing emojis to pick the perfect one, I don’t want to type a text shortcut. I’m sure it’s the same for most people.
You will need a bit of time to get used to the new arrangement, but it is still a big step up from your old setup. The app costs $0.99 and is available in the App Store. It could be particularly useful to interact on Emoji.li and Emojicate, two emoji-only social networks.
I also had to put my investigative hat on and ask a few hard-hitting questions to Emoji++’s creator. The full uncensored interview is below.
At the very end of this post, you will also find a TL;DR version of this article if you don’t care at all about emojis (it’s written in emojis ).
TechCrunch: Why did you create Emoji++?
David Smith: I’ve always found the native iOS Emoji keyboard too cumbersome (at best) to use. Even after using it for years, I still struggle to find the character I’m looking for most of the time. When I saw that iOS 8 was going to allow building custom keyboard, I immediately thought I could do it better. So I sat down over the summer and wrote Emoji++.
TC: What do you think of the third-party keyboard API in iOS 8?
DS: They are still a bit rough around the edges, as is often the case with brand new APIs, but generally they work really well. I especially like Apple’s attention to user privacy. Emoji++ doesn’t request or need the “Full Access” flag and, as such, I like that my customers can know with confidence that their keystrokes are never leaving their iPhone.
TC: How many patent applications did you file for Emoji++?
TC: Do you only talk in emojis?
DS: Depends on who I’m texting with, but it is actually surprising how much I use them in daily communication. Often, a well chosen emoji can convey much more than a sentence or two of prose. Especially over time as you develop a language with the people you text the most (like my wife).
What’s your favorite emoji?
DS: Probably (thumbs up). I find that it is so often the perfect response to affirm something someone else said without needing a long response. It’s especially great when I’m on the go and someone sends a long series of messages. A simple doesn’t feel curt but gets the point across perfectly.