The New New

New Emojis Are Here. We’re Not Ready.

Each year brings new additions outdated tech can barely support

Jeremy Burge
Published in
8 min readNov 12, 2018
Credit: Eoneren/E+/Getty

LLast month, Apple added 158 new emojis to iOS, but the emoji keyboard on iPhone — the primary means of accessing each of these characters — remains almost identical to the one we used nearly a decade ago.

Meanwhile, people push for competing interests. Some want more emojis to better represent the diverse world we live in while others are frustrated by the ever-increasing list of characters to scroll past when new emojis push old favorites to the side.

“Just make it stop!” my friend Elle remarked after the most recent update, clearly falling in the latter camp of emoji traditionalists.

The two problems have something in common: An ever-increasing library of emojis has started to push our gadgets to the limit. Too many new emojis make it harder to find what you actually want to use on the keyboard, and the keyboard itself can’t accommodate diverse options.

Some want more emojis to represent things like bagels, some don’t want a single new emoji unless the keyboard improves first.

All these issues need to be considered by the Unicode Consortium, the group responsible for approving new emoji characters each year. Unicode acts as the liaison between users and vendors when it comes to managing which new emojis come out when. (Full disclosure: My site, Emojipedia, is a voting Unicode member, and I participate with the emoji subcommittee.)

With a potential onslaught of new emojis on the way in coming years, is the emoji keyboard up to the challenge?

Competing Interests

There are three main groups involved in approving, releasing, and using emojis. First, there’s Unicode, which approves and encodes emojis that will be supported by all major vendors — Apple, Google, and Samsung, for example. There’s no point in Unicode approving new emojis if vendors aren’t going to support them on their platforms.

Meanwhile, those vendors want emojis that address the needs of their customers while remaining in line…



Jeremy Burge

Emojipedia founder, writing about life and tech.