A new feature of Google's Gboard for Android lets users doodle an emoji in order to find it. The change was part of a few updates introduced earlier today.
The other updates are also meant to let conversations happen faster and more smoothly.
It likely shares a foundation with AutoDraw, which Google introduced a few months ago. AutoDraw, and likely now Gboard, uses machine learning to match users' rough doodles to pre-drawn simple professional art. In this case, though, that art is the emojis we use every day.
The updates also include more predictions of users' typing, extending to full phrases rather than just the next word. Google also now shows multiple results when users start a web search using the keyboard in Gboard.
The updates are part of version 6.3 of the Android app; there has been no statement on when this might be available for iOS.
The app's purpose is partly to make finding an emoji easier when you can't remember how to search for it otherwise; but it's possible even more of the appeal is the excuse (or opportunity) to draw. People using GBoard could end up feeling like they just created something, or at least used some skill, while still getting to use the professional, much cleaner-looking emoji they find with it.