Skip to navigationSkip to content
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
Unmistakable.
UNCODEABLE

The reason your phone has up to 1,600 emoji but no Prince symbol

Prince, the musician who died today aged 57, famously spent the years 1993-2000 under a different moniker: “the artist formerly known as Prince,” signified by his ”Love Symbol,” or . But you can’t type the symbol on a phone or computer. (The one in this paragraph is an image, not a character.)

The reason? It is not part of Unicode, the standard for encoding characters and symbols for display by computers.

Unicode is vast. The latest version, 8.0, includes 120,672 characters (pdf, p. 4), including 1,601 emoji, many if not all of which are included on modern smartphones. “Note, however,” it says, “that the Unicode Standard does not encode idiosyncratic, personal, novel, or private-use characters, nor does it encode logos or graphics.”

definitely loses out on most of those counts. But just at this moment, quite a lot of people are probably wishing they could use it on their phone’s emoji keyboard, just this once.

Love Symbol via Wikipedia.

Subscribe to the Daily Brief, our morning email with news and insights you need to understand our changing world.

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.