Emoji Explosion: Apple’s Recent Contribution towards Representation

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On 28th October, Apple released the iOS 13.2 update to iPhone users, introducing an array of new emojis. The update adds 398 new emojis to the keyboard, many of which were first previewed in celebration of World Emoji Day earlier this year and made available to iOS beta testers in October. 

 

The addition of these new emojis has been met with praise for Apple's attempt to diversify the keyboard to improve inclusion and representation. As documented by Emojipedia, the update focuses on inclusivity with options such as emoji people holding hands with different skin tones, wheelchair users, and non-binary emojis. The iOS update has provided a 'gender-neutral' option for almost every human emoji available. The addition comes after Google offered Android users non-binary emojis in May.  

 

While many members of the LGBTQ+ community have welcomed the new emojis with open arms, some are critical of the non-binary emojis for reinforcing a fixed visual of what gender-nonconforming individuals "look" like. 

 

Apple has also created several new emojis with visible disabilities. These include wheelchair users, blind/visually impaired people using a white cane and D/deaf individuals. Emojis depicting prosthetics, hearing aids and guide dogs have also joined the keyboard. While many within the disability community have applauded Apple's effort to represent the vast spectrum of disabled people, many are disappointed with the limited options as those with chronic illnesses and invisible disabilities are not represented.  

 

An emoji representing periods has also been introduced, in the form of a red drop. This comes after a campaign led by the global women's rights charity Plan International UK to eliminate the stigma attached to periods.  

 

Unusual new emojis include a snorkel, a yo-yo, a banjo, and a juice box as well as some new fuzzy friends such as otters and sloths.  

 

While there is still room for improvement, it is reassuring to see Apple taking a step in the right direction through their acknowledgment of the importance of representation. iPhone and iPad users can access the new keyboard by opening Settings, selecting General and then Software Update before verifying the installation of iOS 13.2.  

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