Apple’s Latest Betas Bring More Diversity To Emoji

Apple is adding more diverse emoji options to both iOS and OS X, new developer preview builds reveal. These includes various skin color options for emojis featuring people, faces, hands and other exposed skin, as well as new country flags that add to the rather limited original set.

The new skin tone options are available as alternates when a user clicks (or taps) and holds on any of the face, hand or people emoji, offering a further six skin color selections for any given enjoy in the People section where it’s applicable (meaning not the space invader, ghost, poo, skull or mask emojis, for instance).

The additional flag set adds 32 to the total collection, including a range of new countries that go beyond a few European, Asian and North American choices. These are offered on their own in the Travel & Places section of the emoji keyboard on iOS, or special character palette in OS X.

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Apple had introduced the extended emoji support in code for previous releases, as reported by 9to5Mac back when the last preview build was made available, but the latest builds make them available to any users with access to the pre-launch software.

More diversity for Apple emoji has been anticipated since March of last year, when MTV Act emailed Apple CEO Tim Cook and received an email from Apple’s head of PR Katie Cotton, who said that the company would be working with the Unicode Consortium to make more diversity a part of the standard Apple uses from that organization for its visual messaging icons. Unicode published a draft technical report regarding using modifiers to introduce more diversity in emoji last year, co-edited by Google’s Mark Davis and Apple’s Peter Edberg, and this looks like the result of the efforts proposed therein.

In addition to the diversity changes, Apple has also switched up some of the gadgetry imaging, including offering an iPhone 6 for the smartphone image, and an Apple Watch instead of a more traditional timepiece.