New Emojis in 2023-2024

New Emojis in 2023-2024

A Lime, a Head Shaking Vertically, and a Phoenix Bird emoji are amongst the draft emoji candidates up for approval by Unicode this September, as well as a selection of new direction-based people emojis. Ahead of World Emoji Day 2023, we here at Emojipedia have created sample designs for the new candidate emojis.

Other inclusions on the Emoji 15.1 draft list alongside the Lime, a Head Shaking Vertically, and a Phoenix Bird, as well as four new gender-neutral family emojis intended to be represented via silhouettes like the current ๐Ÿ‘คBust in Silhouette and ๐Ÿ‘ฅBusts in Silhouette emojis.

Like the recommendations from 2019's Emoji 12.1 and 2020's Emoji 13.1, each of these draft emojis candidates are to be constructed via zero-width joiner (ZWJ) sequences, utilizing previously-existing emojis to construct a new design and concept.

As such, it is expected that you'll see each of the new emojis listed below represented by two or more existing designs.

For example, ๐Ÿฆโ€๐Ÿ”ฅ Phoenix Bird will have appeared as the ๐ŸฆBird and ๐Ÿ”ฅFire. emojis placed side-by-side, while the ๐Ÿ‹โ€๐ŸŸฉ Lime will show as a ๐ŸŸฉGreen Square placed after the ๐Ÿ‹Lemon emoji.

The only exceptions here are the various new family emojis on Microsoft devices, as these have been supported in non-silhouette form for several years.

While it is the intention of Unicode that these new family emojis will be added to our emoji keyboards in a manner reminiscent of the existing ๐Ÿ‘คBust in Silhouette and ๐Ÿ‘ฅBusts in Silhouette emojis, it ultimately will come down to each emoji vendor (Apple, Google, Samsung, etc) as to whether or not they follow this design directive.

As well as the ten emoji concepts listed above, the Emoji 15.1 candidate list also contains directional versions of six different types of person emojis (for a total of 108 new emojis when you include skin tone modifier and gender variants).

These new direction-specifying emojis are all versions of pre-existing people emojis (e.g. ๐Ÿƒ Person Running), but with the addition of explicitly-stated directionality (e.g. ๐Ÿƒโ€โžก๏ธ Person Running Facing Right).

Each of these directional people emojis will be created through the use of the โžก๏ธ Right Arrow emoji to construct new direction-specifying sequences, meaning that all 108 of these new emoji designs will be facing rightwards.

A sample of how these emojis may look within Apple's emoji set are shown below, with these possible designs created by inverting emojis from the existing Apple set.

Above: a series of inverted Apple emoji designs, which may be how the new direction-specifying people emojis in the draft Emoji 15.1 list will be implemented on Apple devices.

We discuss these direction-based emoji recommendations from Emoji 15.1 further below.

๐ŸŽจ Are these the final emojis?

No, not exactly.

To be clear, the Emojipedia Sample Images shown within the images are just one way in which these emojis might look, created by Emojipedia's Head of Emoji Design Joshua Jones.

Our Emojipedia Sample Images have intentionally been created in a glossy style directly inspired by the Apple emoji set, which is why we opted to reverse Apple's existing people designs for our overview image above.

2023 is actually our ninth year of providing sample emoji designs ahead of their official arrival on emoji keyboards - we first began back in 2015 with sample designs for the ๐ŸŒญ Hot Dog, ๐ŸŒฎ Taco, and ๐ŸŒฏ Burrito emojis.

Additionally, Apple and other vendors may opt for unique designs for each of the new direction-specifying people emojis, instead of simply inverting their existing designs as we have done above for illustrative purposes.

Unicode has also previously provided its own sample set of designs for each of the new non-directional additions. These have been made in the Google Noto Color Emoji style.

It is not guaranteed, however, that these designs will match the emoji designs that will eventually roll out on Android devices via the Google Noto Color Emoji font.

As always, actual vendor designs will vary from those released by major vendors, and Emojipedia's own sample images may also be updated when the final version of Emoji 15.1 is released in September.

Additionally, as this is only a draft emoji list, each emoji is subject to change prior to final approval in September 2023.

That being said, changes to the final draft list have not occurred in recent years, with each of the emojis we've previewed since 2019 all being incorporated into the final list of recommendations.

For additional information about the Emoji 15.1 draft list, you can review the Unicode 15.1 draft release notes and the Emoji 15.1 beta page. The latter includes recommended keywords and proposal documents.

โžก๏ธDirectional Emojis

As touched upon above, the Emoji 15.1 draft list contains a total of 108 proposed emoji sequences that specify directionality. These are all based on six existing person emojis, listed below:

As of last year's Emoji 14.0, there are only a small number of emojis recommended by Unicode that expectedly specify direction.

These include variations of hand gestures (e.g. โœŠRaised Fist, ๐Ÿ‘ˆBackhand Index Pointing Left, and ๐Ÿซธ Rightwards Pushing Hand), different arrow symbols (e.g. โ†–๏ธ Up-Left Arrow, โ†ช๏ธLeft Arrow Curving Right, and โ†•๏ธ Up-Down Arrow), and a small number of other miscellaneous emojis (e.g. ๐Ÿš– Oncoming Taxi, ๐Ÿ”ŽMagnifying Glass Tilted Right, ๐Ÿ—จ๏ธLeft Speech Bubble).

But of course, many more emojis than just these contain directionality within their designs.

Indeed, selecting an orientation for a person, object, or symbol to be represented by an emoji is a necessity for emoji designs when they are seeking to best exemplify an emoji's intended concept. This is especially true considering the diminutive size at which we view most emoji designs in our day-to-day lives.

Shown below are several emojis within the Apple emoji set that don't have an explicitly recommended direction for them to be facing, but the Apple emoji design team has nonetheless chosen to orient these emojis in a certain manner to allow for comprehensible emoji design.

Above: a series of Apple emoji designs that depict their subject matter facing leftwards.

Viewing the image above, it is clear that Apple's emoji designs default to orient emojis to be facing left if directionality is desired but not required within Unicode's recommendations.

Two contexts where directionality is clearly desired is when movement (actual or potential) is being implied as part of an emoji's design (e.g. ๐Ÿƒ Person Running and ๐ŸŠ Person Swimming) and when there is a need to display a full-bodied creature or object (e.g. ๐Ÿš‚ Locomotive and ๐Ÿ… Tiger), though there are some exceptions

In fact, this has historically been the case for almost all emoji vendors, with a handful of expectations over the years (such as the ๐Ÿคพ Person Playing Handball with the Apple set, and most recently the Korean fintech platform Toss' Toss Face emoji set, which orients these same emojis facing right).

While emoji directionality has been an area of consideration for the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee for many years, if the 108 new direction-focused emojis within the draft Emoji 15.1 listed are approved in September, they would be the first full-bodied people emojis to have an explicitly-stated direction from Unicode.

Below is the full list of the 108 new direction-specifying emojis included within the Emoji 15.1 draft list.

If this initial batch of direction-focused people resonates strongly with emoji users across the globe, it must be assumed that further direction-specifying sequences will be recommended for further people emojis (such as ๐ŸŠ Person Swimming, โ›น๏ธ Person Bouncing Ball, and ๐Ÿคบ Person Fencing) and other emojis across additional categories.

Additional (Draft) Observations

Two ZWJ components are reborn anew

๐Ÿฆโ€๐Ÿ”ฅ Phoenix Bird marks the second time both of its constituent emojis have been used in the construction of a new ZWJ sequence.

The ๐Ÿ”ฅ Fire emoji is used to create Emoji 13.1's โค๏ธโ€๐Ÿ”ฅ Heart on Fire, while the ๐Ÿฆ Bird is used within Emoji 15.0's ๐Ÿฆโ€โฌ› Black Bird.

Shaking Face Semantics

Designs for the ๐Ÿ™‚โ€โ†”๏ธ Head Shaking Horizontally and๐Ÿ™‚โ€โ†•๏ธ Head Shaking Vertically may pose some semantic difficulties for emoji designers, given that they can have inverted meanings in different cultures.

For example, while a nodding head such as intended to be depicted in the ๐Ÿ™‚โ€โ†•๏ธ Head Shaking Vertically emoji is a positive "yes" in the United States, in Bulgaria it conveys a negative "no" meaning.

Color Options Leave The Animal Kingdom

Emoji 15.1's ๐Ÿ‹โ€๐ŸŸฉ Lime and ๐Ÿ„โ€๐ŸŸซ Brown Mushroom emoji candidates are the first time a non-animal emoji has been given a specific color-based variation within the emoji keyboard.

They join Emoji 13.0's ๐Ÿˆโ€โฌ› Black Cat and Emoji 15.0's ๐Ÿฆโ€โฌ› Black Bird (๐Ÿปโ€โ„๏ธ Polar Bear is also comparable, though it uses โ„๏ธ Snowflake instead of a color-explicit emoji for its sequence).

What does the introduction of these color-specific variations mean for the much-lobbied-for White Wine emoji? Who knows - we'll have to wait and see.

The Family Portraits

As discussed above, Microsoft already supports the new non-gender-specifying family emoji sequences recommended in the draft Emoji 15.1 list (e.g. ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿง’โ€๐Ÿง’ Family: Adult, Adult, Child, Child).

However, they support them using full-bodied people emoji designs, instead of silhouettes. It will be interesting to see if Microsoft updates these specific family emoji designs in the future to match the silhouette-based proposal, or if other vendors alternatively design to follow Microsoft's lead and create detailed gender-neutral family emoji designs.

How Will We Orientate Anyway?

At the time of writing it is currently unknown as to how our emoji keyboards will accommodate the first batch of direction-explicit people emojis if approved in September.

Nevertheless, we can make some assumptions based on how Apple and Android devices have dealt with skin tone options and gender variations over the years.

Most likely Apple will attempt to have a push-and-hold mechanism that will allow the user to select the gender, direction, and skin tone of the emoji in a single pop-up window (i.e. displaying just ๐Ÿƒ Person Running within the base keyboard).

Meanwhile, the Gboard keyboard could display each new direction-specific person emojis across all genders within the main emoji keyboard (i.e. displaying ๐Ÿƒ Person Running, ๐Ÿƒโ€โ™‚๏ธ Man Running, ๐Ÿƒโ€โ™€๏ธ Woman Running, ๐Ÿƒโ€โžก๏ธ Person Running Facing Right, ๐Ÿƒโ€โ™‚๏ธโ€โžก๏ธ Man Running Facing Right, and ๐Ÿƒโ€โ™€๏ธโ€โžก๏ธ Woman Running Facing Right all in a row, but support a push-and-hold mechanism for the selection of skin tone.

๐Ÿ—“ Emoji Timeline

So, when can you get these 118 new emojis on your iPhone, Pixel, or other devices and platforms? There are two parts to this:

  1. As we've emphasized above, it is yet to be confirmed which emojis are in the final version of Emoji 15.1 - this is still a draft list. However, based on recent years, the final version is likely to mirror this draft list. This means that no new emojis will be added at this stage, though there is a very slight chance that a draft emoji candidate is changed or removed ahead of September.
  2. Release dates for emoji support always vary by the operating system, app, or device.

With those two things in mind, here's our estimated timeline for Emoji 15.1's approval and release across major emoji vendors.

Expect to see some companies come out with early emoji support in late 2023, and the majority of updates to take place in the first half of 2024.

For reference, here's when each major vendor began to support (or began to preview) Emoji 15.0 recommendations:

At the time of writing Microsoft has yet to provide support for Emoji 15.0 for all users, though they have been in beta for Windows 11 Insiders since early June.

Above: Microsoft's support for Emoji 15.0, which is currently in beta for Windows 11.

However, the above schedule does not provide the full picture. For example, while the Google Noto Color Emoji designs were made available in September 2022, they did not begin to appear across the majority of Android devices until early 2023.

Additionally, Samsung was uncharacteristically early in providing support to 2022' Emoji 15.0 mere months after it was approved by Unicode, but this support was provided at the same time as they introduced their support for the 2021's Emoji 14.0 list - a full 13 months after it was approved.

So, what can we say with confidence when it comes to the emoji release schedule? The following:

  • Select Android devices and Google platforms (Gmail, YouTube, etc) may well receive Emoji 15.1 support in late 2023, but there is no guarantee.
  • Apple devices are most likely to receive Emoji 15.1 support in spring (northern hemisphere) 2024.

In any case, here's hoping that the ๐Ÿฆโ€๐Ÿ”ฅ Phoenix Bird emoji will be gracing the skies of our global emoji keyboards sooner rather than later.

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