This latest release adds support for skin tone modifiers, Unicode 9 emojis, and a removal of previously gender-neutral characters in exchange for increased cross-platform consistency.
Above: New emojis included in Android 7.0 Nougat.
Humans Are Human
The first major change to look at is the changing of previously gender-neutral characters into gendered human characters.
While Unicode traditionally recommended a gender-neutral appearance for most emojis, the fact that other major platforms (particularly iOS and Samsung's Android variant) did not conform to this left the gender-neutral characters feeling out of place in a cross platform world.
Say farewell to worm-like police officer, blobby casonnova, jelly bean sweat bow and glove-wearing information desk thimble, and hello to their new human equivalents.
Note that the "smiley" category (grin, heart eyes, crying, etc) remain generic as intended, though with their own changes. Only the human characters have become gendered in this update.
Top: Android 6.0.1 blobs; Bottom: Android 7.0 humans.
Some may consider this a step backward (the generic blobs were cute) but I think Google made the right call here, opting to move closer to consistency with other platforms.
It's not about whether you're right, it's about whether what you are saying is understood.
For the first time, Android now supports skin tone modification on all Unicode-recommended emojis.
The previous gender-neutral blob characters would have looked mighty weird with skin tones applied, so it makes sense that this arrives at the same time as a redesign of all human emojis.
First added to Unicode in 2015, support for skin tones is a late addition for Google, but one that seemed inevitable given the support for this from other major platforms.
Above: Skin tone selection is provided via press-and-hold in Android 7.0. Image: Google.
Skin tones in Android Nougat use the same hair color variations chosen for iOS, whereby the hair color is tied to the skin-tone choice: Black, Blond, Brown, Darker Brown, Even Darker Brown.
Above: All 72 new emojis from Unicode 9 are supported in Android 7.0.
Full list of new emojis now supported by Nougat:
- 🤣 Rolling On The Floor Laughing
- 🤠 Face With Cowboy Hat
- 🤡 Clown Face
- 🤥 Lying Face
- 🤤 Drooling Face
- 🤢 Nauseated Face
- 🤧 Sneezing Face
- 🤴 Prince
- 🤶 Mother Christmas
- 🤵 Man In Tuxedo
- 🤷 Shrug
- 🤦 Face Palm
- 🤰 Pregnant Woman
- 🕺 Man Dancing
- 🤳 Selfie
- 🤞 Hand With Index And Middle Fingers Crossed
- 🤙 Call Me Hand
- 🤛 Left-Facing Fist
- 🤜 Right-Facing Fist
- 🤚 Raised Back Of Hand
- 🤝 Handshake
- 🖤 Black Heart
- 🦍 Gorilla
- 🦊 Fox Face
- 🦌 Deer
- 🦏 Rhinoceros
- 🦇 Bat
- 🦅 Eagle
- 🦆 Duck
- 🦉 Owl
- 🦎 Lizard
- 🦈 Shark
- 🦐 Shrimp
- 🦑 Squid
- 🦋 Butterfly
- 🥀 Wilted Flower
- 🥝 Kiwifruit
- 🥑 Avocado
- 🥔 Potato
- 🥕 Carrot
- 🥒 Cucumber
- 🥜 Peanuts
- 🥐 Croissant
- 🥖 Baguette Bread
- 🥞 Pancakes
- 🥓 Bacon
- 🥙 Stuffed Flatbread
- 🥚 Egg
- 🥘 Shallow Pan Of Food
- 🥗 Green Salad
- 🥛 Glass of Milk
- 🥂 Clinking Glasses
- 🥃 Tumbler Glass
- 🥄 Spoon
- 🛑 Octagonal Sign
- 🛴 Scooter
- 🛵 Motor Scooter
- 🛶 Canoe
- 🥇 First Place Medal
- 🥈 Second Place Medal
- 🥉 Third Place Medal
- 🥊 Boxing Glove
- 🥋 Martial Arts Uniform
- 🤸 Person Doing Cartwheel
- 🤼 Wrestlers
- 🤽 Water Polo
- 🤾 Handball
- 🤺 Fencer
- 🥅 Goal Net
- 🤹 Juggling
- 🥁 Drum With Drumsticks
- 🛒 Shopping Trolley
Also included in this update are new flags which are commonly available elsewhere:
- 🇦🇨 Flag for Ascension Island
- 🇦🇶 Flag for Antarctica
- 🇮🇨 Flag for Canary Islands1
- 🇸🇭 Flag for St. Helena
- 🇹🇦 Flag for Tristan Da Cunha
These are in addition to the 209 flags already supported in previous Android releases. Some countries did not get support in this release, including those without a clear choice of flag.
A number of the "smileys" category of emojis have changed in this latest release to match a single standard appearance.
For a while, different versions of each smiley had different perspectives and sizes, which could be jarring when browsing all faces to find the right emoji.
In Android 7.0 Nougat, every smiley now has a consistent size and shape, which makes it clearer to see which emotions are being conveyed.
Top: Varying styles of smiley in Android 6.0; Bottom: consistent shapes and sizes in Android 7.0.
As with all emoji updates, a number of other less obvious changes sneak in.
There is an increased amount of the color red in this update, which is in stark contrast to Android 4.4 which completely omitted red from the palette.
Top: Earlier Android releases often used orange instead of red; Bottom: Red makes a welcome return in Android 7.0.
Many emojis in Android 7.0 adopt a more realistic appearance, with less thick outlining, and more shading.
In particular, whites have often been replaced with shades of gray, particularly notable in the stationery section.
You might notice subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) changes to a number of emojis in Nougat. Here's some I came across:
📝 Memo has dropped the thick outlines and added more shading.
😎 Smiling Face With Sunglasses bought a new pair of shades.
💱 Currency Exchange looks more like an exchange than just a pile of money.
🍷 Wine Glass looks to be a more palatable shade.
🎲 Game Die also gets shading, loses thick outlines.
🏳 Waving White Flag is now a bit less white:
💼 Briefcase gets more serious with a new brown shade.
😛 Face With Stuck-Out Tongue gets a slight smile better matching the cheeky nature of this on other platforms.
👻 Ghost loses its cheeky cackle, opting for scary ghost. Personally I preferred my ghost with a bit of a grin.
📜 Scroll gets a more conventional vertical format.
This release comes at a key time, with more gendered emojis expected to be on the way, but not in time for this release.
Above: Female and male variations of existing emojis are not in this update, but seem likely for a future addition. Image: Google.
Google did not comment on future plans, but given they are behind one the major proposals for new female representation in emoji, it's fair to assume this will be seen in a future update.
The rollout of Android 7.0 begins today. As with all Android updates, whether this arrives on your specific phone today varies by vendor and location.
This post updates.