The concept of using emoji for search has been around for a while, but it came up in conversation yesterday, so I thought I’d write up a little how-to.
On your iOS device, hit the home button and pull down to bring up Spotlight. Next, bring up the emoji keyboard and type the apple symbol (it’s the first emoji in the fourth section, labeled Food & Drink).
As soon as you type the Apple emoji (?), Spotlight will bring up various search results, the vast majority related to Apple and the Apple Store.
Try some other emoji. For me, the slice of cake (?) brought up a list of various bakeries in Maps. Even if Spotlight doesn’t associate the emoji with a built-in search, it will search elsewhere. For example, when I searched using the thumbs up emoji (??), Spotlight returned a list of recent Messages that used that emoji.
One final bit: This same technique works on your Mac, too. On your Mac, bring up Spotlight by tapping the magnifying glass in the menu bar or by typing command-space. If you type the french fry emoji (?), Spotlight will search for fast food.
I found this fun to play with. Another little detail that someone at Apple sweated over.