Google March 2020 Pixel Feature Drop Emoji Changelog

Google March 2020 Pixel Feature Drop Emoji Changelog

Google has begun its rollout of support for Emoji 12.1, at least for Pixel owners, providing 168 new emojis to those on Google devices.

This update brings the latest gender neutral emojis such as a non-gender-specific Cook, a Person with Red Hair, as well accessibility-focused emojis such as Person With Probing Cane - all of which previously had options only for Women or Men.


Above: all 168 new Emoji 12.1 emojis now available via Android 10.1. Image: Google / Emojipedia composite.

Announced as part of 'more features dropping for Pixel', this update isn't a general Android release available to all phones - though presumably the same emojis will be included as part of a future Android update, and not stay Pixel-exlusive like other 'Pixel Feature Drop' additions.

All 168 new emojis included in this update were approved last year as part of Emoji 12.1; which was an off-cycle minor emoji release that filled in some gaps created by gender neutral and hand-holding sequences from Emoji 12.0 earlier in the year.[1]

Each of these new emojis are constructed using zero-width-joiner (ZWJ) sequences, which all use existing emoji codepoints to create the new gender inclusive options.

All 168 of the new emojis are available via the latest version of the Gboard keyboard.


Above: the three gender options for the πŸ§‘β€πŸŽ€ Singer emoji in the March 2020 Pixel Feature Drop.

πŸ†• New

For the first time on Android, the new hair styles added in Emoji 11.0 have gender inclusive options.


Above: New gender-neutral emojis with various hair styles in Android 10.1. Image: Google / Emojipedia composite.

There are also three new non-gender-specific emojis using a 🦯 Probing Cane, 🦽 Manual Wheelchair, or 🦼 Motorized Wheelchair.


Above: New accessibility-focused gender neutral emojis. Image: Google / Emojipedia composite.

Also included in this 'feature drop' are 16 existing professions which now have gender neutral variants.


Above: New profession-based emojis without a gender specified. Image: Google / Emojipedia composite.

Lastly, some new additions expand on the skin tone options for πŸ§‘β€πŸ€β€πŸ§‘ People Holding Hands, πŸ‘­ Women Holding Hands, and πŸ‘¬ Men Holding Hands.

As per Emoji 12.1 now the order of skin tones can also be chosen by the user.

For example πŸ‘©πŸΏβ€πŸ€β€πŸ‘©πŸ» Women Holding Hands: Dark Skin Tone, Light Skin Tone was available last year, yet the opposite sequence of πŸ‘©πŸ»β€πŸ€β€πŸ‘©πŸΏ Women Holding Hands: Light Skin Tone, Dark Skin Tone is new in this release.

Both feature a woman with dark skin tone and one with light skin tone, but the new sequence places each person on the opposite side.


Above: New combinations of πŸ§‘β€πŸ€β€πŸ§‘ People Holding Hands, πŸ‘­ Women Holding Hands, and πŸ‘¬ Men Holding Hands in Google's March 2020 Pixel Feature Drop. Image: Google / Emojipedia composite.

πŸ†™ Changed

This latest emoji release from Google changes 18 previously-released emoji designs (108 when you include skin tone modifer variations).

πŸ‘©β€βš•οΈ Woman Health Worker and πŸ‘¨β€βš•οΈ Man Health Worker now each have a stethoscope with more distinct gray ear tips and bell.


πŸ‘¨β€πŸŽ€ Man Singer is now wearing teal instead of red, in keeping with Google's gender-based clothing colors for their people emoji designs.


πŸ‘©β€πŸŒΎ Woman Farmer and πŸ‘¨β€πŸŒΎ Man Farmer are now holding a pitchfork instead of an 🌾 Ear of Rice.[2]


πŸ‘©β€πŸ”¬ Woman Scientist and πŸ‘¨β€πŸ”¬ Man Scientist are now holding a Erlenmeyer flask instead of a test tube.


πŸ“Ά Release

Devices now receiving Google's March 2020 Pixel Feature Drop include Pixel 4, Pixel 4XL, Pixel 3, and Pixel 2.

It's not clear whether this emoji release schedule indicates a new path forward for Google: offering Pixel owners new emojis ahead of other non-Pixel Android phones. Or if this is simply an anomoly given the unusually timed Unicode Emoji 12.1 update in late 2019.

Some apps may support new emojis, even on older Android versions, if the app supports Google's EmojiCompat library.

A reminder: these updates do not apply to those with Samsung devices. Samsung has its own emoji set which is updated on a separate schedule to Google's Android emoji updates. Apps on Android such as WhatsApp, Twitter, and Facebook also use their own custom emoji implementations.

  1. In fact, it was a proposal by Google's Jennifer Daniel to the Unicode Consortium's Emoji Subcommittee in April of 2019 that lead to the creation of Emoji 12.1. β†©οΈŽ

  2. This is an interesting change considering that the πŸ§‘β€πŸŒΎ Farmer emoji is created via a zero width joiner (ZWJ) sequence between a person emoji (i.e. πŸ‘© Woman, πŸ§‘ Person, or πŸ‘¨ Man) and the 🌾 Ear of Rice emoji. However, Google is not the first vendor to display a pitchfork: Facebook, Twitter, JoyPixels, and OpenMoji all currently do the same. β†©οΈŽ