A bloodless syringe, a heart on fire and a bearded woman are among the suite of new emojis that will be released with the next operating system update for iPhone.
A total of 217 emojis – a mixture of new creations and modifications – will come as part of iOS 14.5, which is expected to arrive within the next month.
The vast majority – a whopping 200 out of the full set – focus on allowing couples to more freely represent themselves by changing skin tones. The update might have just missed Valentine's Day, but now people in relationships can represent themselves as much more than just a pair of yellow faces across the set of loved-up emojis available on phones.
There are only three new smiley faces: exhaling face, face with spiral eyes and face in clouds.
They look like this:
Two additions to the wide range of heart emojis will also be available: one on fire and another called Mending Heart that's been bandaged up.
It is also now possible to specify a gender for a bearded person, and the blood has been removed from the syringe emoji, making it "more versatile when used to describe Covid-19 vaccination", writes Jeremy Burge, Emojipedia's chief emoji officer, in a blog post.
The headphone emoji, which once looked like AirPods, is also now a more generic over-ear device.
New emoji release date
The Unicode Consortium announced the 217 new designs for Emoji 13.1 in September.
For the past few years, new emojis and updates were approved in January to March, with them being released around October to November. Now, however, as they were approved later, it means they have to wait 13 months to release the characters ("too long") or one month ("too short, not enough time to prepare and test"), so a new release date in spring has been chosen.
Until then, designs are subject to change.
The effort to offer a wider range of skin tones comes after a 2019 study in the journal First Monday found that the Unicode Consortium emojis continue to centre on whiteness.
Lead author Miriam E Sweeney, an assistant professor in the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alabama, told radio station WBHM: "The base decisions remain central. For instance, several black users noted that the emojis now have a different skin colour, but they still retain these kind of European phenotypic features, so the same smooth hair and facial structures as before. So it's a case where the representation did shift and become broader. But at the centre, that base character remains the same. We didn't rethink that original image and representation."