Apple's Trying To Make iOS Emojis More Racially Diverse

Illustration for article titled Apple's Trying To Make iOS Emojis More Racially Diverse

After Miley Cyrus quite rightly grumbled about the lack of racial diversity in iOS emojis a long time ago, MTV Act decided to ask Apple what it had done about it. Surprisingly, it turns out, it's pushing for change!

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The enquiry—sent directly to Tim Cook!—was replied to by Katie Cotton, Apple's vice president of worldwide corporate communications:

"Tim forwarded your email to me. 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."

There's no obvious date by which the Unicode issues will be sorted, though—so, for now, you're stuck with an overwhelming white presence in your emojis. [MTV Act via TechCrunch]

DISCUSSION

It occurred to me long ago that a wide variety of races were under-represented in emoji. But it figures that the MTV crowd would display such massive ignorance. Those emoji have nothing to do with Apple.

Those emoji were designed years ago by NTT DoCoMo and were then encoded in the Unicode standard. They were designed by the Japanese which is why so many of the characters are specific to Japanese culture. Like most cultures outside of the United States, they are not particularly racially sensitive. Why would they be when they are not particularly diverse?

As mentioned, the Unicode Consortium is the body responsible for taking care of this. I guess they could have introduced more diversity when the new set was added, but it seems to me like they didn't really tamper much at all with the original set.

Regardless, expect it to take years to see any new characters introduced. If it were up to me, I'd swap out some of the more pointless emoji, of which there are a ton, with the more diverse set of characters. Of course, even then, I expect someone will still complain about a particular depiction or lack of representation.