Japanese users make extensive use of emoticons in their text messages and web pages. The use of these emoticons, called Emoji, is so prevalent that a standardized set of emoji icons are built into all the wireless handsets – including the iPhone.
Though Apple is known to have built the standard emoji keyboard into the iPhone since the firmware 2.0 update, this has not been made available to users outside Japan.
Hacking into the iPhone SDK to enable these emoji emoticons is possible. Some of the older iPhone apps made use of a loophole in the SDK to enable these characters on non-jailbroken iPhones. These apps have since then been removed from the App Store. Consequently, the only way to now access the iPhone's native emoji icons is by jailbreaking your iPhone. However if you would prefer to not jailbreak your iPhone, here is an alternative. Folks at Awesomest Software have released the latest version of their "Emoji Free!" iPhone app that will enable users to access all the standard emoji icons on their iOS 4 handset.
To get started, you will have to download the app from the App Store by clicking here. Once done, launch the app and tap on 'Ok, Let's do this' to initialize the emoji keyboard. You should now be able to enable the new Emoji keyboard by navigating to Settings -> General -> Keyboard -> International Keyboard -> Add New Keyboard -> Emoji. Reboot the iPhone to complete the process.
The emoji icons can be accessed while typing text messages and emails or while accessing the Notes app. However, do note that these icons can only be viewed by Apple device users. The developers point out that this is a limitation with the Emoji character set and that all Emoji apps behave the same way.
Nevertheless, if you are interested in trying this application, download it from the App Store and don't forget to let us know how it goes.