Emoji—everyone’s favorite image-based form of communication—may soon become more diverse, if you’re an iPhone owner.
Apple has been “working closely” with the Unicode Consortium (a nonprofit devoted to maintaining date/software standards) to give the character set a much-needed update. Apple did not design the emoji that first debuted on the iPhone; rather those originated from Japanese phone carriers.
Per an email to MTV Act from an Apple spokeswoman, however, the emoji are going multicultural:
“[Apple CEO] Tim [Cook] forwarded your email to me. We agree with you. Our emoji characters are based on the Unicode standard, which is necessary for them to be displayed properly across many platforms. There needs to be more diversity in the emoji character set, and we have been working closely with the Unicode Consortium in an effort to update the standard.”
You heard it straight from the big man, sort of: Apple has made emoji multiculturalism an agenda item. And what Apple wants, Apple usually gets.
Emoji hand-claps all around! Emoji fireworks! Emoji thumbs-up!
But really, this is a long-overdue priority, considering that one of the most spectacular emoji artworks—an all-character music video set to Beyoncé’s Drunk in Love—had to rely on a flamenco dancer and a dude in an ushanka to depict the singer and her husband, Jay-Z.
And, for the record, people have been asking for this change for a while now. Aside from stars like Miley Cyrus and Tahj Mowry tweeting that they’d like to see more diversity in the set, petitions on the topic have also been circulating online. This one on Do Something, which asks for “at least four faces with some melanin: a man, a woman, a boy, and a girl,” has about 4,000 signatures.
Let’s hope it happens sooner rather than later. It’d be a killer way for Apple to open up its next keynote.