iOS 4 includes Emoji input on Japanese keyboard

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Apple is targeting a feature request from Japanese users in iOS 4 with new support for several dozen "official" Emoji emoticons accessible from the Japanese Romaji keyboard.

After activating the Japanese Romaji keyboard (used to enter Roman-style characters), reader Davide Crudo noted that a new character key appears on the numbers keyboard: the "^_^" smile.

Typing the key inserts a smile emoticon and presents a popup listing of alternatives below it. Clicking the arrow, or hitting space bar to cycle through the options, brings up an editing panel for choosing from around 50 different alternatives that are commonly used in Japan.

Users can flick through the pages of different Emoji character sequences by touch, or cycle through options by tapping the spacebar.

Once entered, an emoticon sequence acts like a regular block of characters. After entering an emotion in Notes, its default Marker Felt font is changed to Helvetica for all text within that note.