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.