Symbolay ($4.99) by Piotr Wilczynski is your ultimate unicode symbol guide on iOS. Have you ever wanted to spice up your tweets with symbols like ★, ☣, and ⌘? Or even just add some variety in your messages, emails, and notes? If you answered yes, then you should definitely check out Symbolay.
I’ve spent a lot of time on Twitter, and I have noticed the rise of unicode symbols being used in tweets to add humor, or even just to make a point. No matter what the case is, I love seeing them. However, even with the help of TextExpander Touch, I can’t remember all of the shortcuts I have for characters. I mean, there are over 10,000 of them — it gets hard to remember every single one of them, you know? Fortunately, I stumbled upon Symbolay in the App Store, and it couldn’t be more handy to have around.
The interface for Symbolay is simple, clean, and elegant. The dark gray color scheme definitely reminds me a bit of Daring Fireball, which is pretty fitting, considering that the ✪ is one of the symbols in the app. The minimalistic design also makes it incredibly easy to find what you’re looking for fast, which is just what you want in an app for referencing unicode characters. Plus, everything is split up into categories, making it easy to refine your search at any time.
When you launch the app, you will find a screen with several sections: search bar, scratchpad, favorites, recent, and categories. You can tap on any of the categories to select or unselect, or you can quickly choose all or none.
If you’re looking for something specific, tap on the search bar and you can start typing. Now, you may be wondering, “How am I supposed to search for unicode characters?” It’s actually a lot easier than you think. If you have a general idea of the specific symbol you’re searching for, just start typing in the keyword — Symbolay will deliver results in real-time as you type. Even if you may not know the exact symbol you’re looking for, you may get reminded as you look through results, so at least it helps spark your memory.
Once you find the unicode symbol you’re looking for, tap on it to view it. The details screen gives you the unicode symbol, as well as the various technical codes for it, such as HTML and code. You can also favorite a symbol at any time from this screen. If you tap on the symbol, or the codes for it, it will become copied to your clipboard, and you are free to use it in any app, or you can just dump it into Symbolay’s scratchpad.
If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, really, you can even bring up all of the unicode symbols in the app by typing “*” in the search field. This brings up every single symbol there is in the app, and you can browse and copy as you see fit. It’s pretty amazing to see all of the symbols that are available in unicode, and it’s a great way to “impress” your friends in text messages and the like.
So far, I’m really enjoying Symbolay, as it is proving to be quite useful in referencing all unicode in one place. It’s fast, simple, and there are a lot of options available when you find something interesting. However, I do wish that the app allowed users to browse through the symbols that are available in each category. Right now, you can only browse through all of them at once, or you need to have a general idea of what you want when you search. While it may seem fun at first, browsing through 10,000 unicode symbols is actually a very long and tedious task.
Still, I recommend checking out Symbolay if you want to liven up your text with some fun unicode characters. You can get the app on the App Store as a universal download for $4.99.