Since the birth of emojis, people have been trying to reduce the limits of its use so that people all over the world 🌎 can enjoy its convenience and fun equally. Although this goal has been largely achieved, there is still a very annoying problem bothering users: the emojis people see on different devices are not always exactly the same.

There are two different cases: one is that the same emoji looks different on diverse devices📱, the reason for which has been explained in this blog: 🎭Why Do Emojis Look Different On Different Platforms?

The other one is what we are going to talk about here: emojis can't be displayed correctly.

There are three cases where emojis are not displayed correctly, which we will explain in detail with corresponding solutions in this blog.

Emojis showing up as symbols

The first case is the most common: emoji appear as a box/box with a cross/box with a question mark/blank (as shown in the image below). The form in which you see the emoji depends on the device you are using.

🔺:emoji showing up correctly 🆚 emoji showing up as symbols

The reason for it starts with the nature of emoji. Emojis, like the Chinese characters🈴 and punctuation marks🔣, are a type of character that can be recognized by computers and are encoded in Unicode. Any device or app that wants to support the use of emoji will have to put them into its own system.

In the Unicode Standard🔤, each emoji is assigned a code point, which is like their ID number. For example, the code point of emoji😣 is U+1F623.


When you send or recieve an emoji, the system of your device will find and display it by recognizing its code point🧐. And when the system encounters an unrecognized code point, it can't find the emoji corresponding to that code point, so it will have to display the emoji as one of the four symbols mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph.

So when you find some emojis showing up as symboles, it means that the character set or emoji fonts in your device or the app you are using need to be updated.

The updates for character set or emoji fonts are usually included in system version updates, so you just need to update the device or app you're using to the latest version🆕. However, major operating systems and apps do not release updates at the same time, for example, Apple's emoji updates are always much earlier than Android's🙁. So if you don't find a version that can be updated or if the emoji are still not displayed after the update, you will have to wait patiently for the next update.

If the app is still not displaying emoji correctly after the update, you can use its web version (if it has one). For example, Twitter doesn't have a built-in emoji keyboard in its app📱, so if users want to send emojis on Twitter app, they can only choose the built-in emojis in their device. However, Twitter web version 💻 has a built-in emoji keyboard, so as long as it is updated, users can use new emojis on Twitter even if their phone/computer doesn't support them yet. You can still use them on Twitter.

One emoji showing up as a combination of two emojis

Many combinations that seem to be composed of two emojis actually represent one emoji, for example, the left emoji combinations in the picture below are actually an incorrect display of the emojis on the right.

It is easy to distinguish this case. If you can select the two emojis separately with the mouse, they are two separate individuals; if you can't select them separately, they are actually a whole emoji.

The reason for this case is the same as the first one 👆, so the solution is also updating your device's system.

💡: So why this issue happens? We mentioned earlier that each new emoji needs to be assigned a code point, but the expansion of emojis is infinite ♾, while the code points are limited. How can we save code points without affecting the expansion and update of emojis? So the Unicode Consortium decided to connect several existing emojis with ZWJ (Zero Width Joiner) to form a new emoji, so that the new emoji does not need to be assigned new code point because it is a sequence formed by existing code points(as shown in the figure below). Recommended reading📚:What is Emoji ZWJ Sequence?

Special case

The last case is a little special. When you use the same device to browse different websites, you may find that the same emoji is displayed in different websites with different appearance. This is not a problem caused by the system, but the emoji fonts.

🔺:From top to bottom are the emoji fonts designed by Microsoft, Apple and Google

All operating systems need to use emoji fonts to display the emojis. Many systems have their own emoji fonts, such as Windows, MacOS, Chrom OS, etc. Usually web developers will implement these emoji fonts to their project so that different operating systems can use them properly. So the display of emojis is related to the emoji fonts embed in each website.

But don't worry😎, this case is relatively rare.


So that's all in this blog🔚. If you have encountered similar problems and you know other solutions to resolve them, please feel free to share them with us in the comments🗣! See you in the next blog! 👋