It seemed for a time that emojis would be the new hieroglyphics that our descendants would scratch their heads at thousands of years into the future. These pictorial representations of emotions, peoples, and objects are lightweight, compared to GIFs and stickers, and are more common across platforms and devices thanks to the Unicode standard that gets updated and enlarged regularly. Unfortunately, smartphone platforms like Android aren’t always able to catch up with these changes but Google might be paving the way for updating emojis outside of major Android OTA updates.
It might shock some people but emojis are actually part of the Unicode standard, the specification that pretty much determines the symbols that will be universally accepted across computers. Yes, emojis are pretty much extensions of the same letters that make up the world’s languages and are, therefore, handled and displayed by each operating system’s fonts.
Fonts on Android, unfortunately, aren’t as flexible as their desktop counterparts. They reside in a read-only part of the OS that can only be changed by a firmware update, which also requires a reboot. Google usually waits for major Android updates to include new emojis, which means Android users are often late to the party.
XDA reports that there are some changes to Android’s source code that hints Google might be moving fonts to another location. Specifically, fonts, and therefore emojis, might soon reside in the /data partition of the device that can be written to by a system_server process. In other words, it might be possible in the future to have new emojis come simply via a Google Play Store update.
The site does note that the change is still in its early stages and may not even make it to the next Android release. This change won’t just affect emojis, of course, but will also benefit Android’s entire font system in general.