Apple Expands Emoji-set, Catering Even More Identities Now
It becomes tricky, sometimes, to identify insignificant changes in the rollout of a Beta version of a newer OS. But it wasn’t very difficult with the release of OS X 10.10.3 and iOS 8.3 this Monday. After the discovery of a major change, Photos for OS X, another important change which has come to light, is the inclusion of racially diverse emoji in the emoji character set.
Even during late 2012, celebrities like Miley Cyrus tweeted expressing the need for emoji representing ethnic diversity which exists. But it was during the spring of 2014 that the awareness for the expansion of the emoji set started getting momentum.
The idea for having racially diversified emoji was made public by Apple in March 2014, in response to an email by an MTV Act blogger who took it up upon himself to inquire the Apple officials about the scene. In response, Katie Cotton, vice president of worldwide corporate communications for Apple, admitted that Apple was working in close coordination with the Unicode Consortium for an expansive emoji set.
Officially it was in Nov, 2014 when the proposal was submitted to the Unicode Consortium. It basically proposed for including emoji with skin tones representing distinct racial backgrounds. It was important to get the Unicode Consortium in the loop as it would ‘legitimize’ the changes and all devices following the code would also be able to perfectly render the emoji set.
All the characters in the new emoji set come in the generic bright yellow skin tone similar to that followed in the Simpsons, a long press on the character would show another placeholder containing a sub-set of that specific character in 5 different color tones based on the Fitzpatrick scale, a recognized standard used by dermatologists. Users may then select from these varied skin tones to best represent the message they want to send.
It’s true that this elaboration in the emoji set was long awaited and a majority of users would love being even more expressive given such variety. But the pitfall of such development is that it is likely to incur racist connotations in different contexts. Hence in case this happens, authorities will have to come up with justification to substantiate the standardization of this variation.