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Thanks for the feedback everyone! The main point seems to be regarding the semantics of the characters used for icons. There’s a few points with this:
- Yes some characters can be mapped to existing equivalents (such as the heart symbol for favourites mentioned above), but in the scheme of things, this is the minority. Many icons don’t have equivalents. – Yes, the private area of unicode would be better (and also prevent the letter being read out), but this will add another layer of complexity in specifying the correct characters. If we has something like copypastcharacter.com for this it would help a lot – In my mind, icons are just another form of language, but the labels associated with them are the most important. For me, its the labels where the semantics matter most (but if we can use an equivalent unicode character, so much the better).
It’s interesting that the aspect I consider the biggest obstacle – that you can only add new icons if you’re able to create a font – hasn’t been picked up. To me that’s a far bigger problem than semantics of the character used, as you’re relying on what the creator of the font has offered to serve all your needs! :)