The New Emojis Bringing Diversity To Your Keyboard

Diversity has become a key talking point across pop culture in the past few years with calls for equal representation that goes beyond ticking boxes.

As it happens, Apple has been listening to its customers' plights and revealed a whole new range of emojis in a bid to bring "more diversity to the keyboard."

The new designs are set to debut along with the new iOS update this September, along with additions such as waffle, flamingo, sloth, falafel, and yawn emojis, a major aspect of the update is the diverse range of skin tones integrated into its existing set.

The Holding Hands emoji, for example, used to denote monogamous relationships historically only allowed you to pick one skin tone, which has now been altered to select a combination of different skin colours.

Users will also now be able to pick different genders, and personalise the feature "opening up more than 75 possible combinations." Additionally, the Couples emoji will also be revised to include interracial couples.

As Apple reported via its online newsroom, the company's new inclusive emojis feature many that are focused on disabilities. They include an ear containing a hearing aid, a guide dog, various wheelchairs, and leg and arm prostheses.

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To its credit, Google is similarly releasing a variety of disability inclusivity-themed emojis, according to a company blog post.

Like Apple, it will also allow users to create up to 71 different combinations of hand-holding couples using a variety of gender and skin tone choices. Moreover, the company also specified that it plans to focus on gender inclusivity by making gender-neutral individuals the default for certain emojis.

"We’re supporting 53 emojis with gender-inclusive designs. For example, the emoji for 'police officer' is commonly displayed as male and 'person getting a haircut' is female," Jennifer Daniel, Google's Creative Director of Emoji, explained on the company's blog.

"These kinds of design decisions can reinforce gender stereotypes so, with this update, emojis that don’t specify gender will default to a gender-ambiguous design," she continued. 

The National Organization on Disability (NOD) praised the new emojis' inclusive nature and said that it hopes they will help encourage disability inclusivity in the workplace.

“These new emojis will enable one billion people with disabilities around the world to more fully and authentically express themselves,” NOD’s director of external affairs, Priyanka Ghosh, said to NBC News.

Apple's new emojis will be available this autumn in a software update for iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch devices, the company noted.

Google reported that users will be able to access its new emojis when they are released with the Android Q, the company's latest mobile operating system, later this year.

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