Nearly a year after Apple CEO Tim Cook first admitted that the standard emoji set needed “more diversity,” iPhone owners can finally access a more racially complete library of digital illustrations.
The new images come with the iOS 8.3 update, which Apple released on Wednesday afternoon, following the premiere of its long-awaited Apple Watch.
The “skin-tone variations,” as Apple calls them, start here:
You’ll notice that they’re all initially a uniform yellow. When you tap on one, however, a bubble of five additional skin shades pops up.
Though these options are not available for the emoji that feature groups, they work for pretty much every realistic, individual character in the “People” section and some of the people doing sports in the “Activity” section. (See the full list on Emojipedia.org). There’s even a black Santa.
Apple has also included new gender variations to the mix, including a family with two moms and a family with two dads. Kudos to Apple for understanding that its previous options were much too limited to accommodate this ever-expanding definition.
This keyboard-heavy update also rearranges the emoji panel so you’re able to more easily browse it. Simply swipe to the left as the choices of now clearly labeled sections like Nature, Food & Drink, and Celebration scroll by. If at any time you want to skip forward to, say, Objects & Symbols, you can use the illustrated navigation bar at the bottom of the screen.
In addition to a sorely needed diversity update, the keyboard has smoothed over some older classic emoji (removing, for instance, the light out of the prayer hands). It’s also added a few new and notable images, including an Apple Watch, a Mac, and new flags. Unfortunately, the recently announced Spock emoji hasn’t quite made it in yet.
Remember, your friends won’t be able to see these new emoji unless they’ve updated their phones as well. (Check out instructions on how to do that here.) Also, some platforms, like TweetDeck, are still not technologically ready for them.
Nevertheless, this is a day to celebrate. Diverse emoji hand-claps all around!