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Just like how in HTML you would use $ to display a dollar character ($), do Android emoji have some sort of code that I could type in a text field (and if the app supports emoji it will display it), rather than browsing through the list of all emoji?

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Yes

There are Unicode character codes for standard emojis. There's a complete list available here, but some common ones include U+1F601, which is 😁. The actual representation of the emoji might differ across platforms though, as seen below.

representations

Additionally, simply entering the Unicode codes into the app might not necessarily display the character since it assumes you want to enter the literal code and not the emoji representation.

Several services including Telegram, WhatsApp, Slack, GitHub, etc do allow for this fortunately, through a different list of character codes, such as :smile: for 😁. Again there's a complete list available here.

  • The unicode U+1F601 smiley and :smile are not visible to me. Instead a vertical box is displayed. – Lucky Jul 21 '15 at 11:22
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    This is on your computer I presume? Admittedly whether it displays properly depends very much on the degree of Unicode support, which is patchy at best. – Huey Jul 21 '15 at 11:23
  • Yes, Desktop version of Google Chrome latest version(43.x.x). It would be better if you crop the image and post it in you answer for everyone to view it regardless of the Unicode support. Are you using a mobile browser or SE app? – Lucky Jul 21 '15 at 11:27
  • That's weird. I'm on Desktop Chrome too. Anyway, I already have a picture with the representations on the respective platforms above. – Huey Jul 21 '15 at 11:29
  • @Lucky it's not so much about which browser you're using as which fonts you have installed. 😁 works in both Chrome and Firefox here on my Linux box, because I have a fonts installed with that character. – derobert Jul 23 '15 at 17:26
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As an alternative, consider using a keyboard app that offers emoji as suggestions when typing (as well as words).

Swype is one keyboard that does this. If you type "dog" you get various word suggestions, but also the dog emoji. Very handy. A few of the images in the Play Store (links below) show examples of this.

It is a paid app, with a free trial version.

Sadly, Swype is being discontinued by Nuance.

Google's Gboard claims to offer emoji suggestions, but it mostly does not work for me, nor it seems for many others. It does also offer direct emoji search-by-text, but you have to enter text in its emoji search box, rather than it reacting to text as you type (which is what suggestions is supposed to do, but often doesn't).

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