It seems like every day the powers that be add new emoji to the growing alphabet of digital texting symbols. Indeed, we can now send little icons for just about anything, despite the fact that many symbols will probably never be used.
For sure, though, there is at least one symbol that will never be used—at least not anymore—as Apple has replaced the pistol emoji with a squirt gun in the new iOS 10 beta 4 update. It marks a unique day in the evolution of the visual language as the removal of a symbol is, in fact, a very rare occurrence.
Now it might seem that Apple’s motivations for this move are socio-political; that this is a definite attempt to address the senseless violence that have plagued several parts of the world over the past few years. However, industry experts attest that the motivations behind this move remain unclear.
It could be Apple’s response to a petition from the New Yorkers Against Gun Violence which requested, last year, that the tech giant replace its version of the pistol emoji. The community even launched a site—disarmtheiphone.com—and sent an open letter of request to remove the firearm “as a symbol of gesture to limit gun accessibility.”
According to NYAGV Executive Director, Leah Barrett, “Apple has stood up to the bullying tactics of the NRA and gun industry by showing that there are many more life-affirming ways to express oneself than with a gun.”
The gun community, not surprisingly, has been unhappy—often vocalizing—with this move but it appears that the overarching tech community agrees that this is a positive move towards taking the edge off many messages that are already being sent in an attempt to appear threatening. At the same time, this new water pistol substitution is only available on Apple iOS devices. Still, Microsoft has also made a similar move and switched from the pistol to a sci-fi-ish laser blaster instead. On the other hand Google, Samsung, Facebook, and Twitter still all use the more realistic looking pistol emoji symbol.
The gun replacement emoji will launch with the Apple iOS 10 release hits devices this fall. Of course, this will launch in addition to other device updates as well.