‚®ÉūüĄĚ…®‚ąĀ…ß‚ćô‚Ąü for iOS Review

UniChar for iOS
UniChar for iOS

Jordan Hipwell's absolutely delightful celebration of digital text diversity.

I‚Äôve nev¬≠er under¬≠stood why I nev¬≠er see any¬≠one mak¬≠ing use of the vast cat¬≠a¬≠logue of near¬≠ly 140,000 stan¬≠dard Uni¬≠code sym¬≠bols avail¬≠able in their social media posts, meta¬≠da¬≠ta, or word art. Like replac¬≠ing stan¬≠dard bul¬≠lets in our week¬≠ly newslet¬≠ter with ‚óé (U+25CE,) ‚ÄĒ prob¬≠a¬≠bly my all-time favorite, or using strings of four char¬≠ac¬≠ters for intro, ad, and sta¬≠tion iden¬≠ti¬≠fi¬≠ca¬≠tion spots on Extra¬≠tone Radio. (‚ėČ‚ėČ‚ėČ‚ėČ, for instance.) I‚Äôd like to think these uses make their expe¬≠ri¬≠ences feel just a bit more unique to users ‚ÄĒ if only uncon¬≠scious¬≠ly ‚ÄĒ but I‚Äôd long won¬≠dered if I was in fact the last Uni¬≠code enthu¬≠si¬≠ast alive.

The devel¬≠op¬≠ment of Jor¬≠dan Hipwell‚Äôs UniChar for iOS would sug¬≠gest oth¬≠er¬≠wise. Its app store page describes it as ‚Äúa pow¬≠er¬≠ful yet beau¬≠ti¬≠ful Uni¬≠code sym¬≠bol selec¬≠tion app and key¬≠board,‚ÄĚ and its gener¬≠ic web¬≠page appears to have tes¬≠ti¬≠mo¬≠ni¬≠als includ¬≠ing a real post on the Web Site life¬≠hack¬≠er.

UniChar is a third-par¬≠ty iOS key¬≠board that unlocks the wide wide world of weird Uni¬≠code char¬≠ac¬≠ters. Ser¬≠vice marks, copy¬≠right logos, math¬≠e¬≠mat¬≠i¬≠cal sym¬≠bols, tech¬≠ni¬≠cal signs like Apple‚Äôs ‚Äúsplat‚ÄĚ icon or radioac¬≠tiv¬≠i¬≠ty indi¬≠ca¬≠tors, and more are avail¬≠able in the stand¬≠alone app as well as the key¬≠board add-on you can use wher¬≠ev¬≠er you need to type some¬≠thing.

Wow! I can‚Äôt believe I‚Äôd pull-quote life¬≠hack¬≠er any¬≠where, but here is an iOS app that actu¬≠al¬≠ly address¬≠es a reg¬≠u¬≠lar issue of my own in a beau¬≠ti¬≠ful and intu¬≠itive way. I actu¬≠al¬≠ly can¬≠not remem¬≠ber the last time this hap¬≠pened ‚ÄĒ you‚Äôd have to give me a list and a com¬≠pre¬≠hen¬≠sive refresh¬≠er of all the ways I‚Äôve used my iPhones in the past ten years.

Con¬≠trary to what may seem obvi¬≠ous, UniChar‚Äôs char¬≠ac¬≠ter selec¬≠tor is by far the more intu¬≠itive and effi¬≠cient of these two sep¬≠a¬≠rate ways to use it. Even in the free expe¬≠ri¬≠ence, there are sim¬≠ply too many char¬≠ac¬≠ters in the cat¬≠a¬≠log to rea¬≠son¬≠ably browse in iOS‚Äô old extend¬≠ed key¬≠board. (For the record, I‚Äôd like to note that UniChar is tech¬≠ni¬≠cal¬≠ly a ‚ÄúRef¬≠er¬≠ence Appli¬≠ca¬≠tion,‚ÄĚ but I under¬≠stand if you can‚Äôt bring your¬≠self to use the term.) Across both the seam¬≠less¬≠ly-inter¬≠change¬≠able gallery and list views, the user can very quick¬≠ly copy a char¬≠ac¬≠ter to the clip¬≠board with 3D Touch, which works so well it‚Äôs as if it were meant only for this use from its begin¬≠ning.

In the off chance you‚Äôre a long¬≠time lover and devout user of the grander Uni¬≠code col¬≠lec¬≠tion and an iOS user, I hope you‚Äôre now expe¬≠ri¬≠enc¬≠ing the same sort of pet¬≠ty enthu¬≠si¬≠asm I felt myself when I dis¬≠cov¬≠ered it. If not, I hope you‚Äôll take away a desire to explore it. I mean‚Ķ aren‚Äôt these smi¬≠leys way bet¬≠ter than any emo¬≠ji? ‚ėļ‚ėļ‚ėļ‚ėļ


Despite a hand­ful of reports of crash­ing issues in App Store reviews, Unichar has con­tin­ued to per­form admirably for me. I end­ed up spend­ing $2.99 to unlock the full Unichar­ac­ter key­board as the tremen­dous val­ue of that num­ber for the time and effort it would save myself would be more than worth it. (Actu­al­ly, it’s thanks to Red­bub­ble for send­ing me the first tru­ly usable Inter net Mon­ey I’ve had to actu­al­ly spend on any apps and/or ser­vices in fuck­ing for­ev­er, but you know.) After all this time, I’m still gid­dy that some­one else on Earth val­ues these hiero­glyphs as much as I do, and that they knew enough to man­i­fest the per­fect soft­ware to pre­serve them.