Emojis, those little digital icons that people love to add to their text messages and social media comments, are about to get a significant make over. Sometimes called emoticons, these emotion specific images have been with us since the 1990’s, gradually growing in popularity with the public at large. But for all of that popularity, they have been slow to keep up with the changing times. In short, they have always been lacking in variety and diversity. But that is all about to change. As Apple readies the launch of the new iOS 8.3, they have announced the arrival of a bevy of new emojis that better reflects the diversity of the world in which we live.
Culturally Sensitive Emojis:
The yellow faced emojis that we are all so familiar with were never meant to represent real human beings. Based on the yellow smiley face designed by Harvey Ball, they were a not so natural extension of the ‘Have a Nice’ day symbols that all but defined the 1970s. Still, over the years there have been complaints that the yellow hued emojis were racially insensitive. Ultimately, three new emoticons were added to the mix to represent non-Western people; a man in a Turban, a man in a Cossack hat, and a man wearing a Chinese skull cap. But still, any real diversity was sorely lacking. Last year, Unicode Consortium called on software developers to create more racially diverse emojis. Apple responded to that call, and beginning in March of this year emoji users will have six skin tones to choose from to better reflect their ethnic origins. The skin tones are based on the Fitzpatrick Classification scale, and are intended to provide emoji users with a fuller range of racial and cultural representations.
Socially Diverse Emoticons:
In addition to increased racial diversity, the new raft of emojis will also feature icons that reflect the changing nature of the family unit. These emojis are intended to be more inclusive of alternative lifestyles, and to provide users with a wider range of personal expression. Once the new line of emoticons is launched, users will be able to choose from family icons that feature mixed race parents as well as same sex couples. There will also be a wider range of child combinations to better represent the modern nuclear family.
More Opportunities to Express Yourself:
There is more to this new line of emoticons than cultural and social diversity. New gadget emojis are being added, including icons for the Apple iPhone and the soon to be launched Apple Watch. A greater number of countries will now have access to emoticons representing the flag of their nation. Currently, only ten countries have a flag icon on the emoji keyboard. With this update, 30 new national flags will be added, including Canada, Australia and India. There will also be a selection of new activity emojis, giving users more opportunities to express themselves and to highlight their favourite pastimes. With 300 new emojis included in the update, there is definitely a little something for everyone who loves to add a touch of self-expression to their texts.
While there has been some controversy of late over the cost of emoticons, fans of the little icons are still happily adding them to texts and social media posts. Emoji fans have long been clamoring for greater diversity, and for a wider range of icons from which to choose. While there can never be enough emojis to satisfy everyone, the addition of 300 new icons to the virtual keyboard gives us all new, and more playful, ways to express ourselves. Apple’s new roster of emojis will be included in iOS X 10.10.3 and iOS 8.3. Currently in the testing stage, the update is expected to roll out to the general public sometime in March.