217 new emojis have been approved and will come to devices throughout 2021.

Additions include a heart on fire, face in the clouds, a woman with a beard, and new mixed skin tone options for couples.

This is a relatively minor update from Unicode, having implemented a new schedule as a result of pushing back Unicode 14.0 due to COVID-19. The majority of additions are for mixed skin tone options.

Browse Emoji 13.1 on Emojipedia.

Above: 217 new emojis now approved, coming to devices in 2021. Image: Emojipedia Sample Image Collection version 13.1.

Announced by the Unicode today, these form a release billed as Emoji 13.1 and come under a new schedule from the Consortium.

Emojipedia is also releasing its latest sample images for this set, shown throughout this article.

Note for press: Feel free to use Emojipedia Sample Images for articles, tweets, videos or other news-related coverage of Emoji 13.1. We'd appreciate it if you include a link to this article and/or the Emojipedia Sample Image collection page along with the attribution.

Timeline

At the time of publishing, rollout of Emoji 13.0 has not yet come to a majority of devices, with Google and Samsung only beginning their rollouts in the past month, to a subset of phones.

Apple's new emoji support was previewed in July, and coming to iOS this northern hemisphere Fall.

So this announcement about a future emoji release – Emoji 13.1 – comes for most people before they have access to the last announced emoji set.

Above: Estimated timeline for Emoji 13.1 support. Image: Emojipedia.

In past years, Unicode's March release worked well for vendors shipping major OS updates in September-October. This gave approximately six months from Unicode finalizing a release until a major OS update ships to consumers.

Under this new timeline, expect a much more varied vendor release window.

Web apps may start seeing these updates in the coming weeks or months, while major OS updates are likely to be seen any time from January 2021 until potentially as late as October 2021. Technically there is no limitation on any vendor supporting these emojis immediately, should product timelines permit.

New

Smileys

Three smileys are new in this release, two of which are brand new, one which resolves a disambiguation.

Hearts

Hearts are some of the most popular emojis, with Red Heart consistently in the top 10 emojis used on various platforms.

Emoji 13.1 doesn't bring about a pink heart so often requested by Emojipedia users, but it does bring two new emotive hearts:

Above: Mending Heart and Heart on Fire are new in Emoji 13.1. Images: Emojipedia Sample Image Collection

Heart on Fire may be used for representations of desire or lust, or could indicate a sense of burning a past love and moving on.

Mending Heart – a red heart shown with with a bandage across one side – could be seen as the opposite of the Broken Heart emoji.

Beards

Unicode has a goal of standardizing the choices for humans in the emoji set, which often involves ensuring each option has a gender-neutral person available by default, with most also offering the choice of a woman or man.

This update is no different, with the emoji for a person with a beard intending to switch to a gender inclusive design, and new options provided for a specific woman or man variation.

Above: Person With Beard becomes gender-neutral, and new gender-specific options are available in Emoji 13.1. Image: Emojipedia.

Each company has a slightly different take on how the gender neutral emoji is rendered, but these generally all include medium-length hair, and some platforms also use face size or eyebrows to differentiate the gender options.

Couples

200 of the 217 new emojis approved today by Unicode are to permit skin tone options for 💑 Couple with Heart and 💏 Kiss. This resolves a longstanding issue whereby yellow humans, despite being intended as a neutral color, are more closely associated with white people, than people with any darker skin tone.

Above: A choice of skin tones will be available for these couples from 2021. Image: Emojipedia Sample Image Collection.

When taking into account five skin tone options, each emoji requires 25 new sequences to allow a different skin tone for either person in the couple.

Four existing emojis multiplied by 25 new options, means 100 new emojis to support skin tones for 💑 Couple with Heart:

The same calculation applies for skin tone options in all variations of 💏 Kiss:

These updates follow the mixed skin tone options for 🧑‍🤝‍🧑 People Holding Hands added in Emoji 12.0 and Emoji 12.1 in 2019.

The full list of 200 new couple sequences is listed under Emoji 13.1.

🎨 Emojipedia Sample Images

Each year Emojipedia creates its own sample images to show how we think these emojis will or should look. This also gives us some first-hand experience at challenges vendors may face when implementing the same new emojis. Our sample images are created by designer Joshua Jones.

As with all releases, the exact design varies by vendor, with each company such as Apple, Google, Microsoft and Samsung responsible for creating its own emoji fonts and graphics.

Note for press: Feel free to use Emojipedia Sample Images for articles, tweets, videos or other news-related coverage of Emoji 13.1. We'd appreciate it if you include a link to this article and/or the Emojipedia Sample Image collection page along with the attribution.

For an alternative view, see the Unicode emoji charts, which have now been updated and include images from various sources, some including images from Unicode proposal documents.

Above: Unicode emoji charts for version 13.1. Images: Unicode Sample Colored Glyphs.

👓 Notes

A few miscellaneous details about this update:

  • The existing bearded emoji has until recently had the name "Man: Beard". This is renamed in future releases as "Person: Beard", with new additions created for the Woman and Man entries.
  • To get really into the weeds, the Unicode Character Database (UCD) name for 🧔 U+1F9D4 has always been BEARDED PERSON, making this gender neutral. As this emoji was specified as male within TR-51 (The Unicode Consortium's emoji documentaton), the CLDR (Common Locale Data Repository) name in English was set as "Man: Beard" until now, when it goes to being Person: Beard. Got that?
  • Some platforms already supported shared skin tones for Kiss and Couple With Heart, as it's optional for vendors whether they restrict skin tones to the RGI (Recommended for General Interchange) set listed by Unicode. What's new on nearly all platforms is the ability to set a skin tone for each person individually. A similar example is Handshake, which Unicode does not recommend skin tones, but most vendors implement anyway. Plans are underway to support mixed skin tones for the handshakes in Emoji 14.0.
  • Face With Spiral Eyes resolves a long-term issue whereby most vendors show 😵 U+1F635 with X eyes, but some show spirals. With the new emoji, all vendors will show the existing emoji with X eyes, and the new emoji with spiral eyes.
Above: Face With Spiral Eyes will become its own emoji in 2021, instead of an alternative appearance for 😵. Image: Emojipedia
  • Emoji 13.1 is an emoji-only release from Unicode. There is no accompanying Unicode 13.1 release with non-emoji characters. The next major release from The Unicode Consortium will be Unicode 14.0, in approximately 12 months.
  • With Apple and Microsoft being two major vendors that have yet to support Emoji 13.0, will they jump straight to Emoji 13.1, or keep that saved for 2021? Only time will tell.

📝 Data Files

Data files have been published and are available for vendors to consult when implementing Emoji 13.1. Incidentally, these have been available since Tuesday 15 September 2020, effectively confirming the release three days before today's Unicode announcement.

Additionally, Unicode charts are now updated to show the latest additions.

On Wedneday 16 September 2020, Google published files for Emoji 13.1 in its Noto Color Emoji repository. Presumably it intends to use these designs in future Android releases.

Friday 18 September 2020, Unicode makes its announcement that Emoji 13.1 is final, ready for implementation.

🔗 Emoji 13.1 Resources

Unicode

Emojipedia

Google