Google this week released its latest emoji update: its third in the past 12 months. After a large update for in August containing new designs and Unicode 9 emoji support, Google is back with nearly 600 new or modified emoji designs1.
Included as part of Android 7.1, the latest emojis from Google include gender updates, emoji professions, and more.
Above: New professional emojis in Android 7.1. Male versions also available.
Most of the additions in this latest Android release are part of the forthcoming Emoji 4.0 Unicode update. This is currently a draft, but expected to be finalized next month.
Google first proposed new emojis for professions in May 2016, and the result of this work is Google shipping the first phone with support for these out of the box.
In total there are 16 new professions available on the emoji keyboard. These are each available as female, male, and in one of six skin tones (default yellow + five additional choices).
Above: Combinations of new emoji professions in Android 7.1. Image: Google.
These are the new emoji professions added to Android 7.1:
- 👩🎨 Female Artist
- 👨🎨 Male Artist
- 👩🚀 Female Astronaut
- 👨🚀 Male Astronaut
- 👩🍳 Female Cook
- 👨🍳 Male Cook
- 👩🏭 Female Factory Worker
- 👨🏭 Male Factory Worker
- 👩🌾 Female Farmer
- 👨🌾 Male Farmer
- 👩🚒 Female Firefighter
- 👨🚒 Male Firefighter
- 👩⚕️ Female Health Worker
- 👨⚕️ Male Health Worker
- 👩⚖️ Female Judge
- 👨⚖️ Male Judge
- 👩🔧 Female Mechanic
- 👨🔧 Male Mechanic
- 👩💼 Female Office Worker
- 👨💼 Male Office Worker
- 👩✈️ Female Pilot
- 👨✈️ Male Pilot
- 👩🔬 Female Scientist
- 👨🔬 Male Scientist
- 👩🎤 Female Singer
- 👨🎤 Male Singer
- 👩🎓 Female Student
- 👨🎓 Male Student
- 👩🏫 Female Teacher
- 👨🏫 Male Teacher
- 👩💻 Female Technologist
- 👨💻 Male Technologist
My perennial favorite2 is included:
Single parent families are represented for the first time on Android:
A new multi-tier interface allows selection of Male or Female variants for supported emojis:
Above: Male/Female/Skin tone are available with a press-and-hold.
The default display for most emojis is yellow + female; this does not change to the most-recent choice of gender or skin tone after use. These are nearly always yellow + female on the keyboard, but some start as male.
Without getting too far in the weeds, an interesting interface choice is grouping some existing emojis together, like the Police Officer, but not others such as Father Christmas / Mother Christmas, or Prince / Princess.
Above: Some gendered emojis are grouped, others are not.
Similarly, Men and Women with Bunny Ears are grouped under a single item, yet Male and Female Dancers are shown separately.
At a Unicode level, there are differences in how these types of emojis are encoded (the exceptions that show separately have unique code points, whereas the grouped ones are Emoji ZWJ Sequences).
From an interface perspective, this is pretty irrelevant. Regardless, it's a minor point.
Base v Sequence
As such you never actually send 💁 Information Desk Person any more, you will be sending either:
By way of comparison, iOS would send:
Android's approach here is more consistent, but the drawback is that you could be unintentionally sending a full ZWJ sequence every time you input one of these.
There is no way to send the "unspecified gender" base emoji from the keyboard, but the characters are supported.
Rachel Been and Agustin Fonts, two of the Google employees behind the Expanding Emoji Professions proposal, address the issue of why genders came into the picture in a post about this update:
People like to see themselves represented in emoji. That’s why people emoji look human, have skin tones, and are gendered.
A common question that comes up with these new emoji options is one about gender neutrality. This is also addressed, with the pair stating:
The major challenge in bringing gender equality to emoji is not in agreeing that it’s something we have to do (because we’re there already), but rather how to represent it well at emoji scale.
While smileys and other emotions are relatively simple to design as genderless yellow circles, professions seem to have proven more of a challenge.
It's worth noting here that Google previously had many gender-neutral emojis, which some loved, and some others were less fond of.
These have since been changed, and as with any question of neutrality, the question seems to be "what is neutral".
Some consider yellow to be effectively white/caucasian skin tone, others may consider gender-neutral characters to look rather male.
Showing a goal to support gender-neutrality in future, Google states: "we’ll keep trying until we get it right".
👮 Police Officer was previously just a head, and now includes shoulders with shirt and tie:
👷 Construction Worker was previously just a head, and now includes a high-vis jacket, and hammer. The Japanese-origin cross on the helmet has also been removed:
👳 Man With Turban now has shoulders and a white top:
💂 Guardsman now includes a red jacket:
👱 Person With Blond Hair now has lighter hair, shoulders, and a green/aqua top:
🕵️ Sleuth or Spy now has a trench-coat and magnifying glass:
Google is the first to ship a device with support for all of the Emoji 4.0 updates, now sharing the platform with Twemoji on the web.
Many are wondering where Apple is on the emoji update front, holding back on the Unicode 9 emojis approved in June 2016, and users starting to see the infamous "question mark box" as these spread to other platforms.
Oddly, Apple included some of the gendered emoji updates in iOS 10, but did not add the Unicode 9 emojis approved months earlier, nor the rest of the professions.
Android 7.1 shipped on new Pixel phones on October 20, 2016.
The same emoji updates will come to other Android users as part of Android 7.1.1 at a date to be announced.
In the middle of a name-change. This emoji started life known as as "Men Partying". My feedback to change this to "Men With Bunny Ears" arrived in a classic compromise of "Men With Bunny Ears Partying" in the latest draft. ↩
July 17 was the date iCal for Mac was originally announced, but later adopted as the date to celebrate World Emoji Day. Sharing the calendar emoji on this day has been fraught with confusion from some people in past years! Twitter changed their calendar emoji date from July 15 to March 21, as users thought the date was so close it must be a mistake. ↩
The origin of the July 12 date on the previous version of this emoji is not clear. ↩