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Digital life: New icons will leave us with smiley faces

With the release of Apple's iOS 9.1 comes 184 new digital icons, just in time for the launch of a video service engine and one hotel's clever use of the little cartoon symbols

By Katie Wright

Have you ever been so hungover that typing out a full text message, let alone speaking to someone on the phone, seems like a feat comparable with climbing Everest?

If yes, maybe it's time to check yourself into the Aloft Manhattan Downtown hotel, where just three taps on your emoji keypad will get two bottles of vitamin-enriched water, painkillers and two bananas delivered to your room.

The Hangover - which costs $10 and is activated by texting the water drop, pill and banana emojis - is just one of six room service packages that use the digital icons originally developed in Japan in the late Nineties, that have since become phenomenally popular worldwide.

The hotel's launch is well-timed, too, because Apple's latest software update, the recently unveiled iOS 9.1, includes 184 new emoji additions, many of them foodie options.

There's the long-awaited (mainly by Americans) taco, plus a burrito, a champagne bottle with a popping cork, popcorn, a hot dog, a chilli pepper and a wedge of yellow cheese (presumably Swiss, because of the holes).

In fact, of the eight most requested emojis - as revealed by the Unicode Consortium, the body that approves new symbols - all but one (a unicorn head) were foodstuffs.

While you're lounging in your Big Apple hotel room with a sore head waiting for your pills and sustenance to arrive, you'll want some mindless telly, so head to, where you can search for YouTube clips using - you've guessed it - emojis.

Developed by researchers at the University of Amsterdam, the search engine is designed to transcend languages, using 385 symbols to search 45,000 videos for relevant content - the panda and baby faces combined bring up some very adorable results, for example.

These aren't the first instances of emoji replacing words in order to access services, however. In America, you can order Domino's by texting the pizza picture, or tweet the Fooji account (@gofooji) with a couple of food symbols to get a delivery from a local restaurant - although, sadly, you don't get to specify the dish.

The latest update also includes a "bellhop bell" pictogram, so maybe one day every hotel's room service will work by texting that. Not happy with the service? There's a new emoji for that, too - just tap the "reversed hand with middle finger extended" to complain.

Belfast Telegraph


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