On the fifth instalment of World Emoji Day, Apple has revealed a new suite of emoji that will be available later in 2018.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on July 17, 2018

Apple said that there would be more than 70 new emoji characters rolled out in the free software update sometime later this year.

The tech giant said it was introducing the new characters in part to “better represent people with red hair, grey hair and curly hair”.

The new characters will be part of an update to iOs 12 and are based on characters previously approved in Unicode 11.0.

What will the new emoji include?

The new range of emoji will include characters with different hairstyles and hues. There is also an infinity symbol, a lettuce, an emoji face with pleading eyes and a party emoji complete with flying confetti, a party favour horn and conical hat.

For the emoji user underwhelmed by the currently available smiling face with hearts for eyes, there will be a new smiling face character with three hearts.

Emoji have existed since 1999 and may have evolved out of an option to send a basic heart graphic that became popular with Japanese teenagers using pagers in the 1990s. The growing usage and influence of emoji were recognised in 2015 when the ‘tears of joy’ emoji won the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year in 2015. It was the first time ever a pictograph had won the honour.

Billions of emoji are sent each day

The ideograms achieved cultural ubiquity after being introduced to mobile operating systems in the 2010s. There are now five billion emoji sent through Facebook Messenger alone each day.

Emoji have not been without their controversy. In 2017, Apple responded to criticism by removing the pistol emoji and replacing it with a pictogram of a toy water gun. The change came after a US high school student was charged with a felony offence over an Instagram post where gun, knife and bomb emoji were considered to constitute a credible threat to her school.

Who created the first emoji?

In 2017, the first ever set of 177 emoji was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and added to its permanent collection.

The creator of the first emoji, Shigetaka Kurita, has remained a low-key figure and is humble about his creation despite the incredible cultural imprint the characters have achieved. He says the heart emoji remains his favourite.

“The heart is the reason why we decided to make emoji in the beginning,” he said.

“If you add a heart at the end of a sentence, any negative words feel positive.”