“It’s like having a butt on your forehead.” That’s how Sarah McAnulty–resident squid expert and PhD candidate at the University of Connecticut–described Apple’ design for the squid emoji to Gizmodo recently.
The uproar started when the Monterey Bay Aquarium authored a series of tweets pointing out Apple’s mistake on the cephalopod illustration last week. “Apple’s squid emoji is upside down,” the organization tweeted, “the siphon should be behind the head. [Right now] it just looks like a weirdo nose.”
Squid use that siphon to propel themselves, quickly ejecting the water they gather in their bodies by squeezing their muscles. However, the siphon is not on top of the head, as it appears in Apple’s emoji, but under it. Squid also use this siphon to squirt ink from a sack inside their bodies to confuse predators.
It’s still unclear why Apple chose to put this squid’s butt on its face. Maybe it was a mistake, or perhaps they were trying to be funny. The same culprit may be responsible for misaligning the number “1” in the iOS calendar for years. It’s worth noting that the rest of the tech giants put the siphon in the right place, but many made other anatomical errors. Here’s Google’s startled-looking squid:
And Microsoft’s menacing squid, which looks like an alien invader from a 1980s arcade game:
And Facebook’s cute and almost correct pink squid:
I say almost because squids actually have eight arms and two tentacles. While there are no other embarrassing forehead butts among Apple’s competitors, none of these companies was able to design a completely anatomically accurate squid emoji, with the exception of the obscure emoji web service emojidex:
So why are they are all wrong except one? It probably has to do with visual simplicity. Eight arms are a lot of detail to clearly portray in a tiny icon. There’s no one supervising these emoji for accuracy, anyway: The Unicode organization that sets the emoji standards only approves a numeric code and the object of the emoji, which is why the style changes so much from company to company.
In any case, I have reached out to Apple PR for comment and will update this post if I hear back.