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Apple creates mysterious 'eye in speech bubble' emoji for release in iOS 9.1

Source: Jeremy Burge

Last updated

The upcoming iOS 9.1 and OS X 10.11.1 updates will include a new Apple designed emoji descriptively called "eye in speech bubble," though its meaning and intended use is not yet known.

Discovered by Emojipedia's Jeremy Burge in the latest iOS 9.1 and OS X 10.11.1 developer builds, Apple's curious emoji is not a standard Unicode glyph, but a combination of two emoji from Unicode 7.

According to Burge, Apple merged Eye and Left Speech Bubble emoji into "eye in speech bubble" using a special Unicode character called a Zero Width Joiner. The company has experience with ZWJs and previously relied on the technique to build its family emoji set, which joins Woman, Man, Girl and Boy characters in various combinations.

Interestingly, while the Unicode Consortium recognizes Apple's use of ZWJs in the family emoji lineup, it has no documentation regarding "eye in speech bubble." In fact, the new character has not been mentioned or recommended by Unicode, Burge notes.

Beta testers can find "eye in speech bubble" in iOS 9.1 by looking for an ellipses placeholder located between emoji representing playing card suit symbols and alternative speech bubble glyphs. A tap-and-hold gesture reveals an Eye and Left Speech Bubble Eye, sans the invisible ZWJ character.

The emoji's meaning has not yet been revealed, though some speculate it relates to Apple's video messaging feature or FaceTime. In any case, "eye in speech bubble" is set to debut alongside iOS 9.1.