Emojis have a diversity problem — it’s no secret. According to Apple, they are working to create a more inclusive set of icons to add to your texts.
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You’re not the only one that wants a more diverse set of emojis

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Emojis have a diversity problem — it’s no secret. And, yes, we’re talking racial diversity. There are, after all, plenty of variations on the smiley face represented among the character set but few ethnically diverse options. According to Apple, they are working to create a more inclusive set of icons to add to your texts.

MTV Act posed the question to Apple’s Tim Cook after noticing the ongoing debate about a lack of ethnicities among the emoji set.  Most recently, actor Tahj Mowry opined via Twitter, “It makes me mad that there are no black emojis.” And it’s true — there aren’t. The majority of non-smiley emojis representing people are white, save for a sole Asian face that looks more like a caricature than an attempt to be inclusive.

Cook did not respond personally to MTV’s line of questioning, but the email was forwarded along to Katie Cotton, VP of worldwide corporate communications. She revealed that Apple has been trying to get things to a better place with an updated emoji set, but they can’t do it on their own.

Though the specific emojis we see on an iPhone were illustrated by Apple, they are based on a Unicode standard. That standard insures compatibility across devices and platforms, but also means one company can’t simply change the core of the character set.

So why the lack of diversity? It stems from the fact that emojis were created in Japan and only recently have become popular outside the country. Hence, many of the non-people items (particularly the food) represent items of interest specific to an Asian audience. It might also explain why racial diversity was not at the top of the list when it came to standardizing the emoji as a Unicode character set.

Apple has been working with the Unicode Consortium to update emoji for a more global audience. Until they can come to a conclusion on joint changes and additions, we won’t see the updated set. The good news, at least, is we can expect some new friendly emoji faces staring back at us at some point down the road.

[via MTV Act]

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