A new emoji found in Apple's latest iOS 9 software has been baffling users and experts alike as to its meaning. The character is called 'eye in speech bubble' and takes the form of a speech bubble with an eye in the middle (obviously). It has given rise to confusion and conspiracy theories over its purpose.
Emoji, the character icons used to punctuate messages, are full of everything from facial expressions and gestures, to food, flags and sporting symbols. While some emojis can sum up all your emotions in one icon, there are some that are a bit more bizarre.
This new Big Brother-looking eye icon is no exception. It appeared last week as users began to download the new iOS 9.1 software update, which featured a whole new collection of emoji. While the anticipated middle finger icon was a no show, the perplexing eye in speech bubble icon did surreptitiously appear.
What does Apple's 'eye in speech bubble' mean?
Nobody really knows - not even the experts. Founder of the online emoji dictionary Emojipedia, Jeremy Burge, explains in a blog post that it cannot be found in Unicode – the computing database of text and character sets. Burge writes: "Nobody knows what it is, or why it exists."
Of course it didn't take long for internet denizens to give their opinions. Most believe it's a privacy symbol with one comment on the blog claiming its Orwellian shorthand for "this conversation is unsecure, watch what you say", and another saying "that is definitely the privacy eye symbol." Some are going with the simple "I see what you're saying" explanation.
Of course, others still are latching onto a full-blown conspiracy theory claiming it could be a tool for the NSA or a clear symbol of the go-to secret sect, the Illuminati.
The symbol isn't obvious to find. On your panel of emoji on the keyboard it appears as the ellipsis symbol, and to create it you'll need to tap and hold this emoji. An eye and a speech bubble appears and you then have to join these together using Zero Width Joiner.
While we await to hear more on this mystery emoji the more likely explanation is that it is meant to represent a new, yet-to-be-released, iPhone feature or a nod to FaceTime. Either way, we won't lose a wink of sleep worrying about what it could really mean. Thumbs up, smiley face.
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