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[SAN FRANCISCO] Apple and Microsoft on Friday appeared to be aiming in opposite directions with freshly unholstered gun emojis.
A pistol character included among glyphs for messages sent using coming iOS 10 software powering Apple mobile devices looked like a toy instead of a real firearm.
New emojis teased by Apple in a blog post included women athletes, single parents, a rainbow flag, and a green water pistol.
California-based Apple promised that more than 100 new or redesigned emoji characters will be available to iPhone and iPad users when iOS 10 software is released later this year.
Apple billed it as "an exciting update" with emojis that "reflect the diversity of people everywhere." Apple did not respond to an AFP request for comment regarding the apparent decision to make a gun emoji that appeared less menacing than the real thing.
It remained unclear whether Apple made the change in response to recent high-profile episodes of gun violence, as some theorise.
While the change was welcomed by groups devoted to preventing gun violence, it provoked online backlash by those unhappy with the move.
"I have never seen an emoji change so poorly received," Emojipedia.org founder Jeremy Burge said in a blog post.
"And this isn't even in the hands of most people yet."
Meanwhile, a Windows operating system update rolled out this week by Microsoft came with a pistol emoji changed from a cartoonish ray gun to a revolver.
Microsoft said in a blog post that it had a team design new emojis from scratch for the major Windows 10 anniversary update.
"They needed to feel more human, more personal, more expressive," Microsoft said in the post devoted to the new array of 'glyphs' that have become a standard for mobile messaging.
"The effect is clear, and pretty striking."
A Microsoft spokesperson told AFP that the company's intent with every glyph is to "map to industry designs or our customers' expectations" regarding what emojis mean.
Apple's toy gun emoji, if it isn't changed before the official release of iOS 10, would break from more realistic looking glyphs offered by major messaging platforms.