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Since past 3-6 months Android Messages app started to insert spaces between characters of my emoticons and also started to remove certain characters, causing garbage to be actually sent:

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In addition to Google Messages, I am using Gboard on both devices, so maybe this is a problem with the keyboard app, not with the messaging app.

Does anyone know what is this and how to prevent this?

At first I thought that this is a problem with my very old Motorla Moto One (first edition, X1941). But now I have migrated to Neffos X9 and I am observing exactly the same behavior.

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This is caused by the "use simple characters" setting on Android Messages app. The setting will convert special characters in SMS messages.

This is due to the possibility that the recipient's messaging app converts the smileys into respecting emoji, thus resulting in an incomprehensible message, like when the sender intends to send the symbols as-is instead of being considered as an emoticon.

Related questions demonstrating the issue:

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  • Wasn't "use simple characters" setting meant to control whether national characters are converted into Latin counterparts? I intentionally enabled the setting that you're talking about, but I was 300% sure that I am enabling the feature of national characters conversion.
    – trejder
    Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 19:47
  • @trejder that's also one of the purposes. Basically it makes the SMS (which by default only supports the limited GSM 03.38 character sets) save for the SMS provider (wrong encoding, e.g. due to emoji) and recipients (client-side emoji conversion).
    – Andrew T.
    Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 2:28
  • I have accepted your answer, because you have explained everything perfectly. However, I must admit that this is as stupid as it can be. I've been using this switch (to replace national characters into simple Latin characters) for as long as I have been using Andriod phones, so ~10 years now. And they've only introduced adding spaces inside emoticons only a couple of months ago. Was that too hard to make that being controlled by two separate switches? Now, I can only choose: to have emoticons and send expensive 2-3 SMS long messages (even though text itself is short) or disable both at once.
    – trejder
    Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 7:46

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