Article in App of the Week category.
UniChar Unlocks Unicode Characters For Your iPhone
Emoji are great. We totally get their appeal! But sometimes, you are looking for something a bit more simplistic or just want a unique…
Emoji are great. We totally get their appeal! But sometimes, you are looking for something a bit more simplistic or just want a unique character. Perhaps you want something more universal that works not just in your Messages app, but in HTML, code, and any other device. For that, say hello to UniChar (Hi UniChar!).
Unicode is the standard upon which text and emoji are based which is run by the overarching Unicode Consortium. Quirky emoji characters often dominate the headlines — and our usage — but standard Unicode characters have been around far longer and have many more uses. All of which can be quickly procured from the handy
UniChar Keyboard app.
This app technically qualifies as a keyboard app, which doesn’t make anyone particularly excited. Who yells “yay” over a new keyboard? But it can also be used on its own to search, favorite, and identify any of the thousands of Unicode characters.
Use the UniChar app to search for different bullet styles, playing cards, every domino dot configuration, arrows, musical symbols, Roman numerals, tons of arrows, shapes math symbols, Latin characters, Braille patterns, and much more.
The app is cleanly designed, with purple accents to highlight buttons and a stark background. The light background takes a turn when Dark Mode is enabled, matching the system’s dark style. All the characters can be viewed in a long page, in a list, or in a grid which is best viewed in landscape mode.
When searching for a character, you can type the name in the search bar at the top, you can physically search by scrolling, or — and this is our favorite — you can search by drawing. Perhaps you are looking for the “square pensu” character but aren’t quite sure of the official name. You just know it looks roughly like a little running person. So sketch it out and the Unicode app will populate the results with similar-looking characters.
Once you find the character you’re looking for, you can tap and hold to see the name, a preview of the character, its Unicode code, and the HTML code to use as you wish. It can also be inserted directly into the text field for export down below (useful if you are building a long line of Unicode characters so you don’t have to leave the app), or
copied to be pasted anywhere you’d like.
UniChar users can also use the handy widget. The widget has a tabbed interface, split between your recently used and your favorites. We can only imagine this will get even more useful once iOS 14 launches with new widgets this fall.
If you use it as an *actual* keyboard, it shows up just as the emoji keyboard or any other localized keyboard does. Enable it in Settings, then tap the globe icon in the lower-left corner of the keyboard. It shows all the characters with a breakdown below them by category. Recently used are highlighted to the left.
Emoji became so popular because it was a new, fun way to express ourselves that was universal. Unicode is even more universal and not only gives us a way to express ourselves but it also is full of specialty characters and symbols to bring new life and clarity to what we are saying. They may lack the color of emojis, but they are even more useful. UniChar brings these frequently overlooked characters to your fingertips with a simple and well-designed app that is free to download and only a one-time in-app purchase to unlock the whole character lineup.
But enough about other people's apps.