In celebration of World Emoji Day, Apple has released a preview of the new emoji arriving later this year in updates to iOS, macOS, and watchOS. There will be 157 new emoji in total, but today's preview only features a select few.
A centerpiece of the emoji additions this year will be improved diversity in hair options, including red hair, gray hair, curly hair, and bald.
Last year the new set of emoji was added with iOS 11.1 in October, while the year before that new emoji didn't arrive until iOS 10.2 in December. One way or another, it's only a matter of months until some version of iOS 12 puts the 157 new emoji in the hands of users.
Emojipedia's Jeremy Burge, following a series of tests with emoji search, a built-in macOS feature that still isn't available on iOS:
Prior to macOS Sierra’s release in September 2016, emoji search for Mac was the opposite: general terms wouldn’t return any results - but if you knew the emoji name you could get it to appear 100% of the time. This is no longer the case.
I do wonder if an internal effort to make these types of search and prediction tools better in the longer term is making them worse for users in the short term.
It's not just that it's bad because the results are somewhat lackluster. It's bad in the sense that typing Apple's exact description for an emoji sometimes doesn't bring up the character it belongs to. If someone is in charge of this feature for the Mac, I hope they can take a serious look at whatever is going on.
Apple has proposed a set of accessibility emoji to the Unicode Consortium. According to Emojipedia:
In the opening line of the proposal, Apple writes:
“Apple is requesting the addition of emoji to better represent individuals with disabilities. Currently, emoji provide a wide range of options, but may not represent the experiences of those with disabilities”
Noting that this is “not meant to be a comprehensive list of all possible depictions of disabilities”, Apple goes on to explain that this is intended as “an initial starting point”.
Apple has worked with the American Council of the Blind, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, and the National Association of the Deaf to develop the emoji.
Among the emoji included in the set are Guide Dog With Harness, Person With White Cane, Ear With Hearing Aid, Deaf Sign, Person in Mechanized Wheelchair, Person in Manual Wheelchair, Mechanical or Prosthetic Arm and Leg, and Service Dog With Vest and Leash.
The proposed emoji, if adopted, wouldn’t appear until Unicode 12.0 is released sometime in the first half of 2019.
Today the latest batch of emoji approved for addition to the Unicode standard was announced. Jeremy Burge at Emojipedia has the scoop:
The emoji list for 2018 has been published which adds 157 new emojis to the standard. This brings the total number of approved emojis to 2,823.
The latest emoji set includes (finally!) a redhead option, along with a superhero and super villain, kangaroo, llama, bagel, cupcake, and much more.
Emojipedia has created a video featuring designs of the newly approved emoji in a style resembling Apple's emoji set. While we won't get a glimpse at Apple's own designs until later in the year, the video does a great job providing a preview of what we can expect.
In recent years it has become tradition for Apple to add the newest emoji to a point release of iOS, so if that pattern holds, we'll get our hands on these newest emoji options with iOS 12.1 or 12.2 before the end of the year.
In other emoji-related news, Slack today announced that they're going to support new emojis (including those from Emoji 5.0 released in 2017) across multiple platforms. If you use Slack on a regular basis, you know that the company has been notoriously slow over the past couple of years in adopting the latest emojis despite having launched features based entirely on them.
As noted by Jeremy Burge at Emojipedia, however, better emojis on Slack have brought a deeper change for Slack users on non-Apple platforms:
Users of iOS or macOS will see the least change to design in this release, as Slack previously defaulted to using Apple designs on all platforms.
Apple's emoji designs remain the set displayed when accessing Slack on any Apple platform.
Those using on Windows, Android, or any non-Apple platform will see a consistent set between: but it's not what you might expect. Google's emoji designs are being used for all non-Apple platforms now as shown by this alert:
While Apple's emoji font is entirely owned and copyrighted by Apple, Google's emoji font (named Noto Color Emoji) is provided with an open source license which allows other projects to use this within the terms set out in the SIL Open Font License. Given this, it's possible that Slack believes it is on firmer ground to be using Noto Color Emoji rather than embedding Apple emoji images on competing platforms.
Jason Snell argues that this move will lead to a different emoji experience for Slack users who access the service from non-Apple platforms:
The result is emoji fragmentation, where different users of Slack will see different versions of the same general concept. Also, users like my friend Erika might prefer one set of emoji designs to another, but they no longer have a choice in the matter.
That’s the bad news. The good news, at least, is that Slack is rolling out support for new emojis, including gender splits and skin tones, that it previously didn’t.
I wonder if Apple's apparent push toward locking their emoji designs to the iOS ecosystem may have played a role in Slack's decision to implement an open-source emoji set instead (see also: WhatsApp). Still, I'm happy that I can share all modern emojis on Slack; I'll have to rethink some of my typical emoji reactions now.
Over the last several weeks, a few different emoji-related App Review stories have been shared by developers on Twitter. Though it's common practice to use emoji throughout an app's interface, Apple has begun rejecting some apps for just this reason.
Emojipedia founder Jeremy Burge researched the issue and summarized what seems to be a shift in Apple's handling of emoji use. In a piece titled "Apple's Emoji Crackdown" he walks through his current understanding of what's permissible regarding emoji use, and what isn't – though with the caveat that none of this has been officially addressed by Apple yet. He concludes:
It would be a shame to see emojis banished from all apps due to potentially over-zealous app reviewers.
Using an emoji as a core part of an app's UI, or in-game character seems to be a fairly clear overstepping of the mark, and now that Apple has begun enforcing this, I don't expect that side of things to change.
It's understandable there is much confusion about this right now, especially as the Apple Color Emoji font until now has been treated by many as a font like any other. If...thought about as "a set of images created and owned by Apple", the terms for what seems reasonable do shift.
Despite the lack of word from Apple on an official policy change, the signs don't look good. Apple owns the rights to its emoji designs, and there is currently no way for developers to license those designs, so we may begin seeing a lot less emoji use in apps soon.
Unicode last night announced the beta version of next year's emoji release.
This beta release marks one step closer to toward a softball emoji, as well as a cupcake, redheads, bagel or kangaroo. If they make the final cut, that is.
Other emoji candidates in the beta include a teddy bear, mango, party face, skateboard, and spool of thread.
Unfortunately, the proposed emoji that caused a controversy within the Unicode Consortium – the frowning pile of poo – didn't make the cut for next year. The list isn't finalized yet (it'll be in early 2018), but I already see the party face emoji as a potential new favorite.
Also worth noting: there's a proposal to add support for changing the direction of emoji. If accepted, I wonder if Apple could add a "direction picker" to the existing emoji skin tone menu.
Jeremy Burge at Emojipedia explains what’s happening when iOS 11.1 replaces the letter 'I' with an 'A' followed by '⍰':
What's really going on is that the letter "I" is being appended with an invisible character known as Variation Selector 16 when auto-correct kicks in.
This VS-16 character is intended to be used to make the previous character have emoji appearance. When used in conjunction with the letter "I" it displays in some apps as "A ⍰".
The correct behaviour should be to ignore the invisible variation selector if the previous character doesn't have an emoji version.
The bug, which was a hot topic on Twitter over the weekend, only affects some users. Until a software update is issued by Apple to fix the issue, the company recommends setting up a text replacement rule that replaces a capital ‘I’ with a lower case ‘i’ as a workaround.
There’s a debate raging in the halls of the Unicode Consortium, and the fate of creative expression hangs in the balance. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement, but the same could be said of some of the concerns raised in the dispute over the ‘Frowning Pile of Poo’ emoji. The unhappy pile, depicted above in an Emojipedia mockup, is under consideration for inclusion in the emoji lexicon alongside the happier version next fall, which has some Consortium members steaming mad.
BuzzFeed News published a story about the controversy today. Two typographers, Michael Everson and Andrew West, are leading the lobbying efforts against the frowning poo. Author Charlie Warzel reporting on a memo that Everson sent to the Consortium:
“Organic waste isn’t cute,” Everson wrote, aghast that the technical committee would even deign to consider additional excremoji. “It is bad enough that the Emoji Subcommittee came up with it, but it beggars belief that the Unicode Technical Committee actually approved it,” he wrote. Everson continued:
“The idea that our 5 committees would sanction further cute graphic characters based on this should embarrass absolutely everyone who votes yes on such an excrescence. Will we have a CRYING PILE OF POO next? PILE OF POO WITH TONGUE STICKING OUT? PILE OF POO WITH QUESTION MARKS FOR EYES? PILE OF POO WITH KARAOKE MIC? Will we have to encode a neutral FACELESS PILE OF POO?”
West penned a note to the Consortium voicing similar concerns.
It’s not clear yet what will become of ‘Frowning Pile of Poo.’ Final decisions on next year’s new emoji are still months away. One thing’s for sure though, form a committee, and literally, anything can become a drama.