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

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
By Gideon Lichfield
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

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.

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