How to Enable a Hidden Emoticon Keyboard on iPhone
iPhone users regularly enjoy the Emoji keyboard with all the fun icons, faces, and little pictures, but before Emoji came around there were Emoticons, which are basically little text drawings of faces and actions using regular characters on a keyboard. Emoticons are a little bit more complex to type out than hitting a simple Emoji key, but if you want to use Emoticons there’s a great hidden Emoticon keyboard on the iPhone and iPad waiting to be enabled, with a huge array of complete emoticon faces and strings waiting for use.
To be perfectly clear, the Emoticon keyboard on iOS is completely different from the regular Emoji icon keyboard on iOS, despite having similar names. You can enable both if you want to, but we’ll cover the Emoticon keyboard on this tutorial.
How to Enable the Emoticon Keyboard in iOS
This enables a special little-known keyboard exclusively of emoticons on any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch:
- Open the Settings app and go to “General” then to “Keyboard”
- Select “Add New Keyboard” and find “Japanese”
- Select “Romaji” from the Japanese keyboard list (by the way if you haven’t done so yet, you should enable the Emoji keyboard while you’re in the iOS Keyboard settings)
- Now go to an app like Notes and tap on the little Globe icon to access the optional keyboards menu
- Select the Japanese character text, this switches to the Emoticon keyboard that is called Romaji
- Tap on an Emoticon to type it out from the predictive menu, or tap on the Arrow icon to access the huge Emoticon array of completed Emoticon character strings
Here is the full Emoticon keyboard as seen in iOS on iPhone:
Some of the Emoticons are fairly obvious, with many goofy faces of various characters and an obvious idea of what they are to represent, while others are a bit of a mystery. Trying to define them like you can with Emoji doesn’t quite work, so you’ll have to just explore and guess, or enjoy the mystery a bit.
That’s all there is to it. Remember to hit the Globe icon again and switch back to English or whatever your default keyboard is, otherwise you’ll have the Emoticon keyboard as your new default, similar to if you just used the Emoji keyboard it stays the default until switched again. You can switch this or any other keyboard anytime by hitting the Globe icon again and selecting the keyboard set you prefer.
Longtime iOS users may recall that on much earlier versions of iOS, you had to access the Emoji keyboard through the Japanese keyboard options as well, so perhaps future releases of iOS will add the Emoticon keyboard as a broad keyboard similar to the Emoji keys are a simple to access optional set as well.
Thanks to Cult of Mac for finding this fun little optional keyboard in iOS!