This is an open question, but it is a logical followup of my previous question asking for an emoticon keyboard app.

It appears it is not possible to define a system-wide keyboard that supports ASCII emoticons. Instead, specific applications can provide a custom keyboard or another way to easily input emoticons.

So what replacements for the SMS app do provide shortcuts to input ASCII emoticons? For use by people unfamiliar by all those weird punctuations.

I am looking for something similar to the Messaging keyboard on Android. (Thanks to VxJasonxV)

The app should not require a jailbreak.

Bonus points for apps that also display ASCII emoticons graphically.

UPDATE: Now iOS does allow system-wide third party keyboards, so this question is no longer really relevant. However I keep it alive because the answer "no third party app can do SMS" is still correct and useful.

  • 1
    Why would someone build an app with a custom keyboard that contains characters that you can type with the keyboard entirely? I understand saving time, but this just seems... strange. Secondary question, would Apple even approve an app with a fully custom keyboard? I would hate a full screen "text emoticon picker" app. Sep 14 '11 at 23:42
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    Because some people have trouble remembering how to write things like :-* or X-(. By the way, the feature I am asking for is exactly what is supported out of the box by my Nexus S, so apparently I'm not the only one thinking it is useful to some people.
    – ddaa
    Sep 15 '11 at 11:29
  • I take it you mean something like tech-recipes.com/rx/5635/… Sep 15 '11 at 23:43
  • That's exactly what I mean. Thanks for the link. I'm editing the question to put it up as reference.
    – ddaa
    Sep 16 '11 at 14:04
  • @VxJasonxV they would ban an app that replaces the keyboard. For example iSSH (itunes.apple.com/us/app/issh-ssh-vnc-console/id287765826?mt=8) supports its own custom keyboard. /// ddaa that's why you can't do the infamous Whale on Android :)) Actual question - why would someone need to remember how to do an emoticon? If he/she doesn't know how to write it, in the most cases means that he/she doesn't know what it means. I do all my emoticons by hand and have no prob at all?
    – bisko
    Sep 16 '11 at 14:59

Apple does not allow SMS nor Phone replacement apps in the App Store, so this will never be possible without jailbreaking. Since you indicated you would prefer not to jailbreak, you will not be able to do this.

The closest you will be able to get would be to use a third-party SMS service which may either cost or perhaps force you into using a different phone number for SMS specifically with that app. You will need to review third-party apps available to see if they provide a custom keyboard to do what you wish to do.

Long story short: Built-in? Not possible outside of jmlumpkin's suggestion.


I don't know if this is entirely what you are looking for, but it looks like the iPhone does actually have something 'like' this - I guess they are a bit more elaborate than smileys:


Go to Settings -> General -> Keyboard -> International Keyboards -> Add New Keyboard... -> Japanese Ten Key

then, click the 'globe' icon when the keyboard is up, and you should see some (look at the picture linked to on reddit for examples)

  • Actually, THIS is pretty close to what I want, but I just want regular emoticons. Not silly kawai japanese emoticons.
    – ddaa
    Sep 22 '11 at 19:01
  • This is just the closest thing I could find built in. I agree they are silly. As mentioned in the comments above, you can't have other SMS apps without jailbreaking. The easiest route would be to put the ones you want in Notes, but then again, thats just as much as typing them out...
    – jmlumpkin
    Sep 23 '11 at 12:55

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