We’ve been talking about diversification of Emojis for a while now… for some reason. About seven months ago Unicode Consortium, the Japanese company behind those little emoticons, revealed a potential list of new Emojis. Amongst them was a potential skin colour scale which would see every human Emoji offered up in multiple, ethnically diverse variations.
Now we can finally confirm that it’s happening for real, and it’s nearly upon us. Apple has just put out a pre-release of OS X 10.10.3, which will become the latest version of the company’s computer OS. As OS X has the capability to send iMessages, the latest set of Emoji characters has been included within the release.
All the characters you’re familiar with now (such as the sassy girl, the possessed-looking baby, the horribly stereotypical Chinese person – everyone’s favourites) are now coloured an unsettling shade of yellow by default. It works fine when used on relatively featureless smiley faces, but when applied to semi-realistic people it’s a little off-putting.
If you tap and hold on one of them, though, you’ll be shown a pop up selection of five different skin tones for those characters, in addition to Simpsons-yellow. A Latino man in a turban, a black Santa Claus – all now a part of Apple’s new inclusive Emoji spread.
The reason this has taken so long to come around since Unicode first released images of the new Emojis is that Apple has had to implement them itself. Unicode may create the characters, but it’s up to companies like Apple and Google to tailor them to fit their own operating systems. Presumably these new characters will be heading to Android and Windows in the not-too-distant future, too.
There’s been other, non-racial tweaks as well. For example the wristwatch Emoji is now an Apple Watch, and the computer is an iMac. There’s also been a massive expansion of national flags to include the likes of South Korea, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.
Emojis have also been regrouped, presumably into categories that now make a little more sense. Instead of the current six (recent, people, nature, general… things, travel, and symbols) there’s now eight categories: recent, people, nature, food and drink, general things, a little man running (?), travel, and symbols. There’s also an arrow icon at the far right, which could perhaps hint at more categories. Perhaps customisable ones where you can store all your favourites? Presumably these extra categories have been added due to the extra width granted by the iPhones 6 and 6 Plus.
We don’t know when the final version of OS X 10.10.3 will be released, nor do we know what iOS update these Emojis will be a part of. We can assume that it will be very, very soon, though.