Emojis are a ubiquitous way to communicate in this day and age, but you’ve probably wondered — how do emojis make their way to your phone’s keyboard?
Recently there has been a push for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags to be included as emoji (yes please!) as well as petitions for redhead emoji, dumpling emoji and brands trying to crash the party.
While a petition is nice step towards raising awareness, the ultimate decision on what is accepted as a new emoji rests with the Unicode Consortium.
It’s a not-for-profit organisation that standardises letters and characters on computers, a system which is called Unicode. Fundamentally, Unicode ensures that other computers can see each other’s characters, ensuring consistency and avoiding those pesky white boxes you see instead of text.
Unicode is responsible for bringing out new emoji with every version it releases. Unicode 8.0added the unicorn and thinking face, while Unicode 9.0 featured the addition of bacon and an avocado emoji.
It’s still up to manufacturers and software makers as to when they adopt new Unicode versions, but they usually tucking the updates ASAP. If you want to know more, here’sexplanation on the history of emoji and Unicode.
How do I submit an emoji for inclusion?
Got a lot of spare time? You might need it. The process for submitting an emoji for inclusion is laborious. But not without reward. In order to be considered, you’ll need to address a number of detailed selection factors as outlined by the consortium.
Two of the most important selection factors, according to Unicode, are an emoji’s compatibility and expected usage level.
Compatibility refers to whether Unicode needs a certain emoji because it’s already popular on other existing platforms, such as Snapchat, Twitter, or QQ.
Expected usage level includes how frequently the emoji will be used, which will require evidence to back up the claim. You’ll also need to prove whether the emoji has a possibility for multiple usages, which also requires an explanation for the metaphorical use and symbolism of the potential emoji.