If The Emoji Question Mark Box Is Popping Up In Your Texts, Here's What It Means


With World Emoji Day on July 17, you could see a higher onslaught of emojis in your messages than usual. And while a series of unicorns lighting up your phone is probably never unwelcome, sometimes you might get sent an emoji that's just downright mysterious. For those wondering what the emoji question mark in a box means, you might be surprised to know that it's your phone's way of telling you it's time for an update.

Remember how few emojis there were when the keyboard first came out? Every so often, an emoji update is released, and people are given a whole new slew of cartoon images to help express their emotions via text. But if your phone hasn't been updated recently, this might lead to a slight problem.

For people with iPhones, the question mark inside of a box (as seen below) performs the same function that the little cartoon alien inside of a box used to: it's a notification that your phone needs to be updated to the latest version of iOS in order to see whatever new emoji a friend is sending you. And for people with Androids, you likely see a blank rectangle without any question mark inside of it, according to Emojipedia.

So when you get that little question mark in a box, or that little blank rectangle, it means that a friend is using an emoji that's only available in a newer software version.

Depending on what type of person you are, this can be either a good or bad thing. Updating your phone can be a super easy fix, but if you can't stand change, it might not be as great. And if you're having trouble downloading the new update because of storage issues, don't sweat it — here are some tips on how to quickly free up storage on your iPhone, and how to free up storage on your Android.

In 2019, 230 new emojis (including new skin and gender variations) were given approval for release at various points throughout the year (depending on what device you're working with), according to Emojipedia. Per Emojipedia, the latest emojis include a wide range of soon-to-be favorites. In the animal category, new arrivals include a sloth, a skunk, an emotional support dog, an otter, and a flamingo. The 2019 update also represents the latest effort to be inclusive in the keyboard, offering up emoji people with various disabilities, and emojis that allow handholding between two different skin colors. These emojis should be available across all major phone types at various points throughout the year, Emojipedia reports.

As for World Emoji Day, Wednesday will mark the fifth year for the holiday. And if you want a little fun fact to impress your friends, the holiday is set for July 17 because that is the one date shown in the calendar emoji — check your calendar emoji for proof (if you have Apple). The official website for the holiday explains the reason for the event:

We 💖 love emojis. You 💙 love emojis. Let’s 🎉 celebrate them! The purpose of 🌎 World Emoji Day is to promote the use emojis and spread the 😋 enjoyment that they bring to all of those 👬👫👭 around us. Emojis are for all of us. Anyone can join in the celebration using the hashtag #WorldEmojiDay.

Don't forget to check your phone to make sure it's been updated, too — otherwise you might be seeing a whole lot of question marks come World Emoji Day.