Back in April, the Unicode Consortium—the organization that oversees emoji standards and is behind all new releases—announced to the world that, given the global pandemic, there will be no new emoji reveals until 2022. But, things are looking up: the non-profit organization just made public its work on a "minor release" comprised of 217 new emojis that will drop between January and October of 2021. The release is being dubbed "Emoji 13.1."
The update will include 200 new emojis depicting a couple with a heart and a kiss image in a variety of different skin tones. Until now, the two emojis have only been available in the default yellow. Clearly an attempt at embracing the social and cultural changes that have swept the world as a whole, the expanded options most readily capture the essence of the year we're living in.
Other additions include a heart on fire, a heart wrapped in a bandage, a face with spiral eyes, a face blowing out smoke, a head in the clouds and three varieties of a person with a beard. One will be a man with a beard, another a woman with a beard and a third one will be a gender-neutral person with a beard.
Since the first emojis were created by Japanese artist Shigetaka Kurita (think of images of ships, cell phones, umbrellas and clouds, to name just a few), the modes of expression have evolved and, in very specific ways, they have been mimicking the cultural backdrop against which they are released. As conversations about sexuality and social activism took over the globe, for example, new emojis were released to celebrate and expand the definition of terms that had boasted a limited scope until then. Clearly, emojis follow life.
You can browse through all the new additions right here and do expect a more expansive update ("Emoji 14.0) to hit our keyboards some time in 2022.