"The black-and-white days of text-based e-mails have had their day," Darren Lewis, Gmail engineer, said in a blog post. "Following the evolutionary path blazed by colored labels, we present, in all their technicolor glory, emoticons in your mail."
Emoticons have been available on Google Chat for quite some time, but this is the first time they've made an appearance on Gmail. Besides obvious gestures like smiling or winking, the new emoticons will enable users to input images of hugs and kisses instead of "XOXO" and pictures of drinks, cake, or exclamation points to help them get their points across better.
Although the announcement was made to add functionality to Gmail, Lewis did say that all the emoticons made available in this release that weren't already offered on Google Chat have been added "for your enjoyment."