Apple’s New Emoji Updates Show More Diversity but Create Controversy

Posted by Gregg Weiss on Tue, Mar 03, 2015 @ 08:51 AM

The latest gossip in the app development world came last week with the release of Apple’s new developer betas for OS X and iOS, which most noticeably included a more diverse set of emoji. This comes a few months after UniCode Consortium, the group that governs the emoji standard, proposed an update to address emoji diversity.  Unfortunately, their good intentions to please all the world’s people does not come without controversy.  Here’s why…

Included in the new emoji options, there are different skin tones and hair combinations.  Most of the reaction has actually been positive regarding the changes, however, some users (particularly in Asian communities) are upset by the default emoji skin color – yellow.

In a document from Unicode, they state the following regarding the new diverse emoji characters….

“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 (nonhuman) appearance, such as a yellow/orange color or a silhouette.

Five symbol modifier characters that provide for a range of skin tones for human emoji are planned for Unicode Version 8.0. These characters are based on the six tones of the Fitzpatrick scale, a recognized standard for dermatology. The exact shades may vary between implementations.”

At BlueWhale, we applaud UniCode’s efforts in showing diversity in mobile app development.  As they always say, “You can’t please everyone.”  Well, at least they are trying!

To learn more about the emoji controversy and how these new updates work on older devices and platforms, see's article. 

Tags: apple, iphone


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