More than 200 new emojis will arrive on iPhones with the release of the next operating system update, including a vaccine-ready syringe, a burning heart and a wide range of options for couples with different skin tones.
The emojis will arrive as part of iOS 14.5, and the iPhone is expected to appear in the next month. The changes, compared from the beta by Jeremy Burge, the founder and “CEO of Emoji” of Emojipedia, are a mix of brand new creations, modifications to existing emojis, and several updates unique to Apple’s platform.
Numerically, the biggest change is in the way users can present themselves as a couple. So far, only People holding hands – 👫 – have had skin tone options, such as 👩🏻🤝👨🏽👩🏿🤝👩🏽 or 👨🏿🤝👨🏽, added in 2019, with the possibility of presenting the couple as same-sex. Now the same ability to mix and match skin tones and present the couple as more than just a couple of yellow faces, has come to other beloved emojis, including 👨❤️👨 and 👩❤️💋👨, though unfortunately too late for Valentine’s Day.
The presentation continues in the second option, adding two gender options for the emoji thumbnail previously described as “Person: Beard”. Now iPhone users will be able to choose a man or woman with a beard, with one skin tone option that is remarkably reminiscent of 2014 Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst.
For many, the most notable change might just be Apple’s setting of syringe emojis display, 💉. Emoji, which are defined only as “syringes,” usually contain two drops of blood from their earliest onset in Japanese cell phones in the early 00s. Now Apple has updated it to a general purpose image that contains a clear liquid – and perfect for showing that you have just been vaccinated against Covid.
In the smiley, yellow face section, users have three new options, named by Unicode, a consortium that controls emojis, “Exhaled Face”, “Face with Spiral Eyes” and “Face in the Clouds”.
Emotion updates are a surprisingly burdensome political thing. Unicode, which spends most of its time dealing with secret questions about presenting text on computers, does not actually design icons, but publishes a simple description of what they display. This has led to fragmentation around design specificity in the past, allowing platform holders to add their own whims to stand out. Because of this, Apple, for example, managed to unilaterally redesign the syringe, but had to wait for Unicode’s approval to introduce skin tone options in 2015.