Blue jellyfish, new heart hues, and a very shaken smiley face are among the 31 emojis within Apple’s iOS 16.4 beta update. Although the expanded options are currently only available for anyone enrolled in the Apple Developer Program, the images should appear within during the wider, public iOS update estimated to arrive in March or April. As Emojipedia explains in its first look published on Thursday, new emojis’ current versions could be tweaked slightly between now and then, as was the case in the previous batches’ troll, peach, and bagel images.
In total, 21 novel emojis are included in the forthcoming update, alongside the various skin tone options for applicable entries. Other additions include animals like a moose and a goose, as well as long sought-after basics like plain pink and blue hearts. According to Emojipedia, the plain pink option was named as one of the website’s top requested additions all the way back in 2016.
The process for adopting new emojis is a lot more complicated than most people might think—one that’s fraught with all manner of accessibility, geopolitical, and cultural considerations. As Gizmodo explained in 2020, the world of emojis is largely overseen by the Unicode Consortium, which maintains the standards and updates to international, multilingual text and images. Every year, the public can submit new proposals for potential emojis, which Unicode then reviews and winnows. Afterwards, the actual consortium members (i.e., those who pay an $21,000 annual membership fee) vote on which ones make the cut. It’s not always smooth sailing from there, however.
One such example came in 2019, when Apple quietly hid the Taiwanese flag emoji on devices with regions set to mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau. Taiwan’s sovereignty has long been contested by China, and many critics saw the move as a capitulation to the country. Luckily, it doesn’t exactly appear at first glance like any of the upcoming emojis boast quite the same caché—although who’s to say what that shaking emoji face could represent in one year’s time?
The emoji keyboard isn’t the only language getting receiving updates. As The Verge details, Korean keyboards are receiving default autocorrect capabilities, while Ukrainians should receive support for predictive text. The beta also has South Asian languages such as Punjabi, Urdu, and Gujarati getting transliteration layouts that should help users typing with Roman letters avoid pesky English autocorrection issues.