Android has an emoji problem. Or better to put it this way: Google has a fragmentation problem when it comes to Android system versions, which prevents those using older systems from accessing, let alone seeing, more modern emoji icons.
As a result, Twitter has now created its own custom emoji library instead of using Google's own pack. This is because most Android phones are never on the same software, so users often aren't seeing the same emoji.
Twitter Rolls Out Twemoji To Deal With Android Fragmentation
Now, regardless if a user is on Marshmallow, Lollipop, Nougat, or Oreo, Twitter for Android will start using its own "Twemoji" library, as Emojipedia reports. That means all Twitter for Android users will see the same set of emoji regardless of what version of Android they're running.
Android is the world's biggest mobile operating system, but the fact that it can be installed in a variety of devices presents big problems. For starters, midrange Android devices with low- to middle-tier specs might not be eligible for newer system updates simply because they don't have the specs necessary to run it. As a result, while a Samsung Galaxy S9 and, say, a Huawei Honor 5X both run Android, the Galaxy S9's software is far more capable.
Fragmentation occurs when a user base is divided into subsets. Because Android versions are getting released but manufacturers are either lacking or simply lazy in terms of supporting it, many devices get stuck on older versions. Thus, new features rolled out exclusively for newer versions of Android aren't available on older ones, thus creating a chasm between the entire Android user base. This chasm manifests in various ways, both major and minor, including something as benign and simple as not seeing the same types of emoji.
As The Verge notes, it's a bit embarrassing that Twitter had to step in and address the issue because Google itself can't handle Android's huge fragmentation problem. It's not just Google's fault, however. It's also the fault of manufacturers that simply don't update their devices. At the moment, only 6 percent of all Android users are running Oreo, the latest version.
Google is working to fix this fragmentation problem, but it's clear that it's not doing so fast enough. This results in situation like this, where third parties such as Twitter have to implement their own measures to get around the issue.