Google turns pistol emoji into water gun in new update

Gun emoji from several companies

Phone and software companies are moving away from a realistic gun emoji to a harmless one

It now looks like the tide is changing, with Google being the latest company to kill off its handgun emoji in favour of a water gun.

Twitter replaced its pistol emoji with a water gun just a few days ago.

Apple first transformed its gun emoji from a realistic looking silver revolver into a green water pistol in 2016 after a succession of high-profile USA shootings and pressure from activists, to a mostly positive response ("not political correctness gone mad; smart", was one Guardian writer's opinion).

Apple was the first to lead the charge when it eliminated its hand gun emoji in 2016, swapping it out for bright green toy water gun. WhatsApp, Samsung, and Twitter have all recently switched as well, and so Android should not be left behind.

That fact is particularly ironic given that Microsoft initially had a 50's style ray gun emoji between 2013 and 2015.

Microsoft ironically used a toy gun emoji until 2016 before changing it to a revolver.

In a 2016 interview with Emoji Wrap, Google product manager Agustin Fonts said he was cautious about changing the gun emoji as the company "want to be as compatible with other systems as possible". According to the site, the reasons for this change may have less to do with making a statement about gun violence, and more to do with looking consistent with other platforms.

It might seem like a small thing to have to change the gun emoji, but compatibility issues aside, we're of course at a pivotal point socially when it comes to gun issues.

Microsoft still features the pistol emoji instead of the water gun.

Emojis are approved by the Unicode Consortium, the industry body which oversees software standards and developments, but tech platforms are at liberty to introduce their own designs of approved glyphs.

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