Apple has now diversified its emoticons for its diverse range of users throughout the world. Apple the today delivered a new beta of OS X to developers that comes with the major new feature – diverse emoji. A number of tiny cartoon people are now available in six different skin tones.
Apple has openly acknowledged that emoticons lack racial diversity, even the ones that do represent people of color are often criticized as stereotypical. Apple pledged to increase the diversity in its emoji keyboard last March, after the public outcry over the limited options for people of colour. Miley Cyrus even tweeted about it, helping it to go viral on twitter. With the recent unveiling of the diverse emoji, the Cupertino company is making steps in the right direction.
The diverse people are just some of the 300 new emojis included in the latest developer version of iOS 8.3. The male and female faces, as well as thumbs up/thumbs down icons, will be available in different colors. Other people emoji, such as princesses and construction workers, will get more diverse options. Tapping and holding on an emoki person will bring up the new skin-tone variations. The new icons won’t be available to the public until the update is released later this year.
The current illustrated icons include same-sex couples but no black characters. There is an Asian man wearing a traditional Chinese cap and an Indian man in a Turban, but the rest of the emoji population is light-skinned.
Creating a more diverse emoji selection was not as easy as releasing a new iOS update. Thanks to the change in the Unicode standard called the ‘skin tone modifier’ which allows users to select the compatible emoji, the new emoji in now made possible. To come up with the expanded palette of skin tones, Unicode used the Fitzpatrick scale, which was originally developed by dermatologists to classify different types of skin.
“Apple supports and cares deeply about diversity, and is working with The Unicode Consortium to update the standard so that it better represents diversity for all of us,” said an Apple spokesperson.
In another notable update, Apple is replacing its watch emoji with – yes! – the Apple watch.
Right now, the new slew of emoji only show up on supported devices. For devices not running the latest software, the original white emoji characters appear in their place.
The developer version of iOS 8.3 that was released on Monday also includes a more diverse Siri, who can now speak a number of new languages including Danish, Dutch, Portuguese and Russian. There is no release date for iOS 8.3 or OS X 10.10.3 yet, but Apple is reportedly planning a public beta program which will kick off in mid-March.