Free app offers Kansas City-themed emojis

This is one of the Kansas City-themed emojis being offered on a free app.
This is one of the Kansas City-themed emojis being offered on a free app.

Kansas City is now in the club of American cities that have an app dedicated to providing emojis that capture the city’s essence.

Swyft Media and Kansas City-based Single Wing Creative have collaborated to create the Emoji My City app, which offers more than a dozen Kansas City-themed images. The app is available on the Apple and Google app stores and can be synced without download to standalone messaging services such as Kik. There are no ads for iOS and Android users.

For those who aren’t millennials or don’t wear out smartphone keyboards, emojis are small pictures showing faces, places and just about anything else. They’re like digital hieroglyphics, and they’ve become an increasingly popular way to communicate as smartphone use grows.

Emoji My City’s keyboard features images designed to resemble the Kauffman Center, a streetcar and a pig smacking its lips at a rack of ribs. Badges with Royals and Chiefs themes are also included.

The app was created by Single Wing creative director Emily Elmore and Kathy Lu, The Star’s assistant managing editor for features, although the venture is not connected to The Star.

The app also provides stickers (cartoon pictures) and GIFs (moving images) in its keyboard.

Users can copy their image of choice and paste it into their message, but keyboard users who have not downloaded the app have access only to stickers.

Elmore said the Kansas City emoji keyboard has been accessed more than 100,000 times since it was released June 3, with a fraction of that traffic coming via Google and Apple app store download.

The app asks that users grant it “full access” in their keyboard settings. Elliot Wiersgalla, a digital strategist with Single Wing, said the company tracks usage statistics, but “we do not see or store your personal information.”

The analytic information the firm receives shows the Royals artwork and an image of the Kansas City skyline getting the most play, Elmore said.

Similar apps have popped up across the country. Chicagoans can send pictures of the John Hancock Center and the silver, beanlike Cloud Gate sculpture. Folks in New Orleans can share cartoon crawdads, alligators and gumbo. Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., have emoji keyboards. New York City has at least two.

Elmore said the Kansas City-themed app is different because it’s free, it’s available on a wide variety of platforms and its designers have made local companies part of their business model.

Because Single Wing doesn’t receive any advertising revenue, the company aims to charge Kansas City businesses who want their companies to be emojified.

Wiersgalla said the company plans to release 10 to 15 new images. The company hopes to use the Royals, Chiefs and Sporting KC logos, as well as images of nonsports entities such as the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.

The company plans to offer a similar service in Las Vegas and has discussed the Chicago and New Orleans markets, Elmore said.

Will Schmitt: 816-234-4269, @ws_missouri