Unicode

Are Emoji About To Get A Whole Lot More Diverse?

It sure looks that way.

The battle for emoji diversity has finally been won! Well, sort of.

The Unicode Consortium, a group that apparently sets the worldwide standards for emoji, proposed an update earlier this week that would bring a whole new range of skin-tone options for their human-based icons.

"People all over the world want to have emoji that reflect more human diversity, especially for skin tone. The Unicode emoji characters for people and body parts are meant to be generic, yet following the precedents set by the original Japanese carrier images, they are often shown with a light skin tone instead of a more generic (inhuman) appearance, such as a yellow/orange color or a silhouette," the proposal states.

Many users were in an uproar last June when the Unicode Standard update to Version 7.0.0 offered up over 200 additional characters -- including a middle-finger emoji -- without any address to the rising concerns over the lack of racial representation.

Apple CEO Tim Cook's office even told MTV Act, prior to the release of Version 7.0: "We agree with you. Our emoji characters are based on the Unicode standard, which is necessary for them to be displayed properly across many platforms. 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."

According to the new proposal for Unicode Version 8.0, they will add five "symbol modifier characters that provide for a range of skin tones for human emoji." The colors will be based on the six tones of the Fitzpatrick Skin Type scale, which classifies skin color based on a person's response to sun exposure.

Implementation may be similar to the "press and hold" function popularly used to conjure up foreign-language characters and might look something like this:

Unicode recognizes the vast plethora of other types of diversity in human appearance, but they maintain that: "it is beyond the scope of Unicode to provide an encoding-based mechanism for representing every aspect of human appearance diversity that emoji users might want to indicate." For that, they recommend inserting your own graphics.

Unicode Version 8.0 is expected mid-2015.