Apple users, take note — racially diverse emoji are on the horizon.
After much discussion over the lack of people of all hues in the emoji keyboard, Apple appears set to revamp its offerings. The new versions of iOS and OS X, currently being beta tested, reportedly include a range of emoji that allow you to change the skin tone of any emoji in the people set (which means, yes, you can text a black Santa). Those with access to developer beta testing posted screenshots of the keyboard:
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) February 23, 2015
Les nouveaux Emoji dispo avec iOS 8.3 : pic.twitter.com/39IBYBx5A7
— Steven (@73steven) February 23, 2015
Apple continues to focus on inclusivity: iOS 8.3 has 300 new emoji, including diversity, and 32 new country flags! pic.twitter.com/bVkDEDLM6b
— Rene Ritchie (@reneritchie) February 23, 2015
Emoji characters first became popular in Japan, and they are developed and maintained by the Silicon Valley-based nonprofit the Unicode Consortium (which also develops and maintains software standards for text and characters).
In 2014, an Apple spokeswoman told MTV that it would work with the Consortium to address the diversity gap in the emoji keyboard. And it wouldn’t be without precedent; Apple added same-sex couples with a 2012 operating-system update.
The Consortium has already released a draft proposal to make emoji look more diverse, which included skin tone options using a scale from dermatologist Thomas B. Fitzpatrick that be available for a maximum of 151 characters, including hands. The Apple characters would be based on that same classification.