Android 10: Forget Dark Mode, the New Emojis are the Real Deal
I can finally express my boredom and exasperation with ease, given a phonemaker's mercy.
The latest emoticons onboard Android 10. (Image: Emojipedia/Twitter)
Android 10's first stable build has been released, and while my colleagues have been thrilled with the performance and UX upgrades it brings to the table, my levels of enthusiasm have been somewhat muted. However, it only took a while before I got all excited again — with Android 10, Google has brought forth no less than 236 new emoticons, varying widely in shapes, sizes, colours, expressions and levels of memes that they can inspire. The new range of emojis vary from the unassuming slab of butter, to an unrealistically clean auto rickshaw, and even an oil lamp (you know what you're gonna get this Diwali). This is actually quite the addition, contrary to what you'd expect — they are the one change that I like more than anything else. Allow me to explain why.
Q the drum rolls
Every year, Google rolls out a new version of Android, with new features in tow. This year is no different, but with Android 10, Google's changes to the OS are more about making you, the user, revise how you typically use Android. While many find that sufficient, I'd rather they provide me with features that help with how I have always used my phone, than change how I do.
Take, for instance, the new 'Bubbles' feature. Sure, I am used to seeing Messenger chat heads, and I quite like the way it can pop up a relevant chat, anywhere. However, doing so with many other features do not make as much sense, as the chat app does. For instance, if I am on a call and I need to do something urgent while being on it, the call app will float on my screen as a bubble head. The deal is, I do not really need it, do I? In the existing version of Android, I could already swipe down notifications and tap on the call to return to it, should need arise.
Having to render an extra bubble means consuming extra RAM at hand, and while everything runs as smooth as low fat butter on Google's prima donna Pixel phones at the onset, time pretty much ruins everything. I use a Samsung Galaxy S9+ as my everyday phone, and despite being a pricey flagship that's just about a year old, the custom OneUI interface on top of Google's Android is now heavy, and ridden with lags. Proof at hand — Messenger chat bubbles take over 10 seconds to load. Do I really need more bubbles, on top of this?
While features such as Wi-Fi QR codes and app-specific location settings will hopefully come to my aid (once Samsung decides to upgrade the S9+), the new gestures mean that I'll need to get used to yet another revision of how I use my phone. Dark Mode isn't particularly new to me — my phone menus already have a dark theme applied, thanks to Samsung's own rendition of Android. Hence, while the advent of a new Android version cues in drum rolls from around the world, the new features come with the apprehension of needing to let go of something familiar, yet again. This year, hopefully, it'll be worth it.
UX = User Expression?
If you're looking for a lowdown on the new features, my colleague has already laid one out, which you can read here. But, if you're indifferent about Android 10's additions, I bring news in the form of bright, flashy patches of sunshine that are Emojis, stacked in Android 10.
Now, I can express my utmost boredom to a friend's rant about being broke yet again with a nifty yawn. Not cool enough, you say? I can then give you the 'pinch fingers' emoticon to show you exactly how much relevance your bank balance has in my life. If you get the drift, chances are with Android 10, you can show your bewilderment with the friendly little chimpanzee, scratching his skull amid oodles of confusion. And, there's now a friendly little sloth hidden in the emotion jungle, perfectly to portray my levels of energy on a Sunday afternoon.
There's something for everyone here — a certain phone brand can now use emojis for their device's colours, and the onion even comes peeled. My mother, who has a particular proclivity of discovering new ways to emote, is sure to discover the diya — a sureshot weapon coming everyone's way, this Diwali. Even with all of these, I'm only skimming the tip of the emojiberg.
You see, I'm sure to get used to the new gesture controls eventually. After all, we're all slaves to our habits. But, software upgrades are no longer flagbearers of unexpected changes. On the contrary, they offer exactly what you would expect, oftentimes behind schedule. Emojis, on the other hand, open up a wide range of conversations. They let you express yourself across myriad platforms, through a wide range and variety.
Given how much of our time we spend on WhatsApp and Twitter, shouldn't we all be thrilled about the new multi-ethnicity-kids-holding-hands on the block?
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