Google is the latest company to ditch the pistol with a new emoji update for Android users. The switch to a bright orange and yellow water gun, rolling out now, mimics changes made by Apple, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Samsung over the last few years. That leaves Microsoft as the only major platform with the realistic handgun emoji. True, Facebook still uses it, but a spokesperson for the company confirmed to Emojipedia that it would also be replacing its gun emoji with a toy water gun. The Verge has reached out to Microsoft for comment.
The move makes Google’s gun emoji correspond with other platforms. So, if a friend sends the playful water pistol from an iPhone, it will now look similar on an Android device or in a tweet without any unintended miscommunication.
Ironically, Microsoft initially displayed the gun emoji as a toy, but changed it to a revolver in 2016 as part of its emoji redesign project. With Google’s (and Facebook’s) latest move, Microsoft’s gun emoji puts it at philosophical odds with the other giant tech companies based in the US where gun violence is a major concern. As we previously noted, in 2016 Apple successfully pushed to remove the rifle icon from the standardized collection of emoji.
Google has made several changes to its gun emoji over the years, starting with a black handgun in 2012, a vintage pistol in 2013, then revolvers in 2014 and 2017, and now, a water gun. This recent change, however, is the most comprehensive, and puts Microsoft in an uncomfortable position.