Emoji have conquered the world, no doubt, but what happens after the conquest?

The answer: Things change. Emoji are constantly evolving, not only with new symbols that arrive on our smartphone keyboards year after year, but also the symbols themselves. A couple of years ago, your standard emoji keyboard usually had a gun on it, but today that symbol has been almost universally replaced with a water pistol.

The gun’s transformation may be the most dramatic of changes, but emoji are changing in subtler ways, too. Apple recently announced a new set of emoji coming in iOS 12, and it includes a eye-like symbol, the nazar amulet, that’s very popular in Turkey and other parts of the world, but not the U.S. With the emoji keyboard now pretty much filled out with “universal” symbols, expect more niche or regional characters to appear.

There’s also the question: what to do about unpopular emoji? Some emoji, like “crying with tears of joy,” are everywhere, but others don’t get as much day-to-day use. Case in point: the aerial tram emoji is apparently the least-popular emoji in use, according to Emojitracker.

Image: Messenger, Apple, Google, EmojiOne, HTC

Should there be an effort to boost unpopular emoji, and what responsibilities do the main shapers of emoji — Apple and Samsung, mostly — have here? And just who gave them so much influence over our new visual language anyway?

To help guide us through the ever-evolving world of emoji, we turned to Jeremy Burge, the founder of Emojipedia and creator of World Emoji Day, which took place earlier this week on July 17. Burge sat down with MashTalk host Pete Pachal to talk about the new emoji coming this fall, review the  Emojiland musical on Broadway (it’s good!), and revealed his true thoughts about Apple’s Memoji avatars.

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