31 new emoji get Unicode approval, and Google’s letting you try them out early
31 new emoji get Unicode approval, and Google’s letting you try them out early

Support for the new characters is already starting to arrive

Emoji have become so essential to how many of us communicate online, that it's a little hard to remember life without them. Just as written language evolves, emoji themselves need to keep abreast of the times, and the Unicode Consortium shoulders the responsibility of screening candidates and updating the library annually. With September upon us, just like clockwork, the Consortium has given the green light for Unicode 15.0, complete with 31 new emoji — and if that weren't enough, it's also being joined by Google with some emoji news of its own.


Version 15 of the Unicode Standard includes a whopping 4,489 new characters, of which 20 are new emoji destined to make their way to smartphones and computers in. Where'd that 31 come from? If you count all the skin tone variations of the left and right pushing hands, plus the black bird zero-width joiner (ZWJ) sequence you arrive at the full 31 (via Emojipedia).

We don't see quite as many additions compared to previous years, but we still get some good ones. The new plain pink heart is arguably the most requested emoji, which is joined by a light blue heart and a gray heart. In addition to the new emoji, the Unicode 15 standard includes characters from Kawi and NagMundari scripts.

Companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung have to start integrating these new emoji into their keyboard apps and software. That's true for Android as well, but Google's off to a head start and has already released an updated version of its Noto Emoji font that includes all the new characters — it even updated the monochrome version of the font.

As if that weren't enough, Google's releasing a ton of animated versions of its emoji. Some of these were already accessible through Messages, but the company's publishing the whole set on the web, ready for you to integrate into your own projects.

There's also some interesting color-related stuff happening. For one, Google shares news of how the COLRv1 format lets users change the colors of emoji in fonts like its own Noto Color. Supported by browsers like Chrome, COLRv1 lets sites redefine the colors used to render these characters, creating results like the ducks you see below. Unfortunately you can't directly share these palette-swaps in messaging apps.

Finally, we get an update on Emoji Kitchen and what it's doing to support additional colors. By creating combinations that include a colored heart, you can generate alternate versions of emoji that take on the heart's hue. These are technically stickers, but we're not about to split hairs.

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