New emojis have arrived on iOS as part of the latest iOS 14.5 beta. These include a heart on fire, exhaling face, and gender options for the people with beards.
Also included in this release: couples with a mix of skin tones. This is part of the Emoji 13.1 specification released in late 2020.
A whopping 200 of the 217 new emojis in this release are there to permit this more inclusive set of couples to be chosen from the emoji keyboard.
If this feature seems familiar, the same functionality was added to the people holding hands in 2019.
There's just three new smileys in this release, which look like this:
Most emojis these days provide an option for a gender inclusive default, or a specific gender can be chosen to show an emoji as a woman or man.
In practice with Apple's design style, women in this scenario tend to be displayed with longer hair, and thinner eyebrows. Most other features remain quite similar to Apple's emoji man.
A Little Bit of Branding
Also changed in the latest iOS beta: the 🎧 Headphone emoji. Once displayed as the bud of an iPhone headphone (looks a lot like AirPods, before AirPods existed), this emoji has been shown more recently as a generic over-ear headphone.
Coming in iOS 14.5, this changes to what appears to be Apple's latest AirPod Max.
This is the same approach Apple takes with a number of ostensibly generic emojis, including:
Coming to iOS 'this Spring' (northern hemisphere), these updates are in the latest iOS 14.5 beta 2 available for developers now.
This is a different schedule to usual, as Apple only just released a whole batch of new emojis in iOS 14.2 in November 2020. The change isn't part of some new initiative at Apple, but stems from Unicode's new release schedule.
For the past few years, emojis were approved in Jan-March, and came to iOS around October-November. This allowed Apple to release, for example, iOS 11.0 in September 2017, followed by new emojis in iOS 11.1 in October 2017.
The same trend continued with new emojis appearing in iOS 12.1, iOS 13.2, and iOS 14.2 all release in the October following the point zero release.
With emojis now approved in September, Apple's choices were to wait an entire 13 months to add the latest emojis (too long), one month (too short, not enough time to prepare and test), or what they decided: pick a new Spring release date.
As with all beta software, designs are subject to change prior to the final release.