Can emojis be used in Wi-Fi network names? 🤔

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If you’re looking for wacky and fun Wi-Fi network names, you may have wondered if you could use emoji. Let’s blow the dust off an old standards manual and get to the bottom of things.

Emoji have been around for decades, first appearing in the late 1990s on Japanese mobile phones, and have slowly made their way into seemingly everything. People use them in text messages, as video reactions, and anywhere a succinct pictographic representation of an emotion or idea is needed.

So, with all the emoji saturation, you may have wondered if you could put an emoji (or ten!) in the name of your Wi-Fi network.

You can put emoji (and more) in network names

Wonder no more, because the good news is… you can! Although we recommend reading the entire article to get a complete idea first.

It may seem counterintuitive that you can use emoji after a lifetime of seeing basic Wi-Fi network names, formally called SSIDs, with basic alphanumeric names like NETGEAR-938HE3 either CoffeeShopFreeWiFi.

But if you dig into the standards that govern Wi-Fi, the 802.11 standards maintained by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), you’ll find something surprising: the only restriction to setting an SSID for a wireless network is that it must be between 1 and 32 octets in length, one octet being 8 data bits.

Conveniently, characters in the UTF-8 Unicode Standard character set meet that criteria and are a valid choice for inclusion in an SSID.

As of Unicode 14.0, there are 144,697 characters, including characters for hundreds of languages ​​and thousands of emoji symbols. Emoji symbols, interestingly enough, are 2 octets, not a single octet like the character A or the number 2.

So each emoji in your SSID counts as two regular plaintext characters: you can have a 16 emoji SSID, a 30 plaintext character SSID with a single emoji, or any combination of the two that adds up to 32 octets. total.

Advice: Typing emoji on mobile devices is easy, but it can be tricky on computers. Use the keyboard shortcut Win +. on Windows 10 and 11 PCs and Control + Command + Space on macOS in any text box to open the emoji picker.

We deployed two temporary Wi-Fi networks to demonstrate how you can use non-English emoji and symbols to create unique Wi-Fi names. This is what the available networks view looks like on our iPhone with both networks active.

Examples of Wi-Fi names with unconventional name structures, seen on an iPhone.

There’s an old bored neighbor NETGEAR07 SSID leaking into our airspace, and then you can see our much more interesting name “shruggie”, ¯_(ツ)_/¯ which takes advantage of Japanese katakana to create the appearance of a face, and then a modern lock emoji, 🔒.

As long as the firmware on the Wi-Fi router you’re setting up doesn’t restrict you to a more basic character set like just AZ, a-z, and simple keyboard symbols, the sky really is the limit when it comes to any emoji or other characters you want. put there.

You could try telling a full emojii story on your SSID if you wanted, like on a full moon, a vampire turns into a bat, flies to a castle, and fights a ninja to the death: 🌕🧛‍♂️🦇🏰🥷⚔️💀

Remember, you can have up to 16 emoji. We only use 7 in this example, which leaves room for a full continuation of our vampire/ninja story.

Sure, you can use emoji, but should you?

You may be wondering, just because you can do something, should you do it? Despite the anything-goes approach the 802.11 standard takes which characters are valid to use in the SSID space, there are some valid reasons to keep things boring.

The use of “exotic” characters relies on the viewer having access to the same set of characters to understand what they are looking at, it also requires them to input them in some cases. While most devices automatically detect Wi-Fi SSIDs so you don’t have to manually enter them, sometimes it does.

For devices where you have to manually dial in the SSID and password on a small touch screen using the standard QWERTY keyboard symbols, you’re out of luck when it comes to anything beyond that basic set. It’s also a hassle if you have devices on your network that you configure via command line or startup scripts.

Also, you can sometimes get weird bugs like this iOS 14 bug where SSIDs with % symbols in the name would permanently disable Wi-Fi access on the iPhone, requiring a reboot of the device. NETGEAR07 It may be a boring name, but at least it’s not a name that will break your phone.

And hey, even if old devices or worries about weird bugs don’t bother you, there’s still the perpetual problem of emoji having a lossy effect on translation.

The Unicode for emoji may be standardized in terms of the numeric identifiers for each emoji, but the appearance of the emoji certainly isn’t. That’s a minor thing, but emojis for faces and people are often mistranslated across devices.

But if none of that is stopping you, and you’re willing to worry about your network and your devices in the rare event of problems, why not have some fun? The 802.11 standard supports including up to 32 emoji in your Wi-Fi network name, so live it up a bit. You may only be one cow and 31 poop emojis away from truly expressing yourself.