Emoji to Gain Expanded Racial Diversity With Skin Tone Modifier Option in Mid-2015
The Unicode Consortium has released a technical report (via Emojipedia) detailing a new method for handling the representation of multi-ethnic groups in emoji. Previous guidelines have stated that emoji people be "as neutral as possible regarding race, ethnicity, and gender". Unless the emoji calls out specific gender or racial cues, then a "generic (inhuman) appearance, such as a yellow/orange color or a silhouette" should be used in its place.
A forthcoming update, Unicode 8.0, plans to change all of that. It proposes to introduce a skin-tone modifier which could be added to certain emoji, allowing users to send any emotion using any skin tone. Plans even reach as far as to allow emoji couples to feature individually different skin tones. Planned for release in the middle of next year, Unicode 8.0's skin tone and racial diversity proposals are only proposed drafts at the current stage.
Although the wide acceptance of new emoji is rather slow-going (no major platforms yet support Unicode 7.0 emoji released earlier this year), Apple has shown previous interest in updating the diversity in its emoji lineup. Earlier in the year, Apple's then-vice president of worldwide corporate communications, Katie Cotton, spoke to vocalized support in working with the Unicode Consortium and updating its emoji character offerings.
"Tim forwarded your email to me. We agree with you. Our emoji characters are based on the Unicode standard, which is necessary for them to be displayed properly across many platforms. There needs to be more diversity in the emoji character set, and we have been working closely with the Unicode Consortium in an effort to update the standard."
The most recent major change to emoji on Apple platforms was for iOS 6, when the company expanded native support beyond Japan and made the feature accessible to all users without the use of a third-party app.
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