Every year, the Unicode consortium makes one of the hardest decisions in world politics: which new emojis to add to the official list used around the world.
Emoji Version 15.1 was agreed upon back in September 2023, and has already been implemented in the latest Android releases – but Apple typically takes its time before updating the iOS emoji roster. This year, that change goes live with the upcoming iOS 17.4 update, which is expected to be released some time in March. (Beta testers can access it right now.)
With the choice of emojis already somewhat overwhelming and the last few years dedicated to diversity and inclusivity, some would argue there’s not much left to add. That sentiment is reflected in the smallest update we can remember: just six brand new icons, or 118 if you include subtle variants.
So what’s new?
This addition brings two smiling faces – one nodding in agreement, another shaking side-to-side in gentle refusal. Then we have a fiery phoenix, to my mind one of the best-looking emoji to date. Completing the set is a lime wedge, a brown mushroom, and a broken chain. A pretty random selection, but these are the graphics Unicode decided were most lacking from the previous set. Who are we to judge?
Beyond the brand new icons, there are a bunch of new variants for the emoji that show multiple people together, and many of the full-body emoji now have directional variants so they can face either left or right. Exciting stuff, eh?
A word of warning
Note that even once you’ve updated to iOS 17.4, that only guarantees that you can view these new emoji. Both sender and receiver must install the update before they’ll be able to successfully share them.
Sending new emoji to somebody without the update results in an amusing translation of sorts, where iOS attempts to get the gist of the new icon across using two old ones. For example: instead of a phoenix, it will send a bird and a flame emoji. Take a look at the combos below to get an idea of what people might be seeing once you start using these. Can you easily guess them all?
🙂↕️ 🙂↔️ 🐦🔥 🍋🟩 🍄🟫 ⛓️💥
There are new animals, foods, and objects, plus a couple of new symbols. We’re particularly pleased to see jellyfish, peas, and maracas make an appearance. Check out the full selection below and remember to update to iOS 16.4 as soon as possible to unlock the new emojis.