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Apple updates emoji with bloodless syringe and interracial couples

Apple’s latest iOS update made the syringe emoji more vaccine friendly

A medical worker prepares syringes with doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine at a 24-hour mass vaccination event last month in Metairie, La. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple’s new iOS software update contains important privacy upgrades, the ability to unlock your phone while wearing a mask if you also own an Apple Watch, and — appeasing the clamoring voices on the Internet — a more vaccine-friendly syringe emoji.

The shot emoji has become one of the mobile-friendly symbols to represent coronavirus vaccines, an increasingly popular conversation point as 141 million people in the United States have now received at least one dose.

Some complained about the previous emoji, which had two drops of blood dripping from its point. The new version simply shows a sleek syringe, sans blood.

Users can see the emoji when they update to the new iPhone operating system, iOS 14.5.

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“The new syringe emoji is FINALLY coming to iOS next week,” one user tweeted. “Now we can all look a little less unhinged when we’re celebrating our vax status.”

The emoji update, with designs organized by the Unicode Consortium, also includes emoji of interracial couples. Previously, many emoji with two or more people on iOS could only be yellow, but the update allows for a choice of varying skin tones on couple emoji with hearts.

There’s been a push for several years to make emoji more diverse and inclusive, something that has happened slowly over time. In 2019, Apple and Google revealed new emoji designs, including versions of people holding hands with combinations of different genders and skin tones.

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The update also includes other new emoji, including a heart on fire, and beards on both male and female characters.