Skip to main content

Apple diversifies its emoji collection in iOS 8.3 update

In response to the criticised lack of diversity of emoji, Apple has released a new version of the popular picture icons – offering six different skin tones for each character.

Apple users who download the latest iOS X 10.10.3 and iOS 8.3 beta 2 updates can choose between multiple skin tones when using the male and female characters by tapping and holding the icon.

While emoji’s design has been standardised under the tight control of the Unicode Consortium, it agreed to partner with Apple to develop and release new skin tone characters that can be recognised across different regions. These tones were based on the Fitzpatrick scale, a standard used by dermatologists in recognising skin tones.

In March last year, Apple voiced its plans to shift from the light-skinned dominated emoji to more racially-diverse picture icons, saying: "There needs to be more diversity in the emoji character set, and we have been working closely with the Unicode Consortium in an effort to update the standard."

However, even the new versions have not escaped criticism, as they have received flak in social media for including a bright yellow tone.

Prior to this update, the only characters that represented non-westerners were a man wearing a cossack hat, a man wearing a turban, and a man wearing a traditional Chinese skull cap.

The new emoji version, which underwent around a year of development, adds 300 characters, including icons of modern families, same sex relationships and 32 new flags.

UPDATE: iOS 8.3 is now available to download for iPhone users. Head to Settings > General > Software Update to get the OS update and start using the 300 new emojis on offer.

Image Credit: The Next Web (opens in new tab)