If historical patterns are anything to go by, new versions of Android and iOS 📱 will launch this year, and they’ll include new additions to the emoji tool set. Included in the new Emoji 13.0 set are essential pictograms, like people wearing tuxedos, the cockroach, a bell pepper, and a plunger. Finally. 🙌 You’re going to have to savor these new emoji, however, because they are likely to be the last ones we get until 2022. Like everything else, the Unicode Consortium has had a wrench 🔧 thrown into its regimented schedule by the novel coronavirus. 😷 Unicode, which oversees text-encoding standards across technology manufacturers, is largely volunteer-run. “Under the current circumstances, we’ve heard that our contributors have a lot on their plates at the moment and decided it was in the best interests of our volunteers and the organizations that depend on the standard to push out our release date,” consortium president Mark Davis wrote in a statement.
Under a normal timeline, Unicode finalizes new additions of the emoji collection in March, and then technology companies would incorporate them into products released later in the year, like the new version of iOS released every September. For 2021, however, the timeline has been bumped six months, meaning that Unicode 14.0 won’t be locked 🔒 until September of next year. Once that is settled, tech companies can then incorporate it into their operating systems. That is unlikely to happen in the last three months of the year. Hence, we’re not likely to get any new emoji until 2022. 😡
The exception to this concerns emoji sequences. To get a little technical, some quote-unquote new emojis are not actually new. Two emoji with different skin colors (👍🏻and 👍🏾) are not a two unique characters but an existing emoji (👍) combined with two different skin-tone modifier characters. These are easier to put into new software releases because they rely on existing characters already approved by Unicode. It’s possible that 2021 could see a release of new emoji that rely on this modification system, but the consortium is still exploring that option and not committing to anything. On the plus side, anyone thinking about submitting a proposal for a new emoji now has until this September to do so. If you’re bored out of your mind in isolation and need a new creative outlet, maybe that’s a thing you can do?