Covid-19 disrupts 2021 new emoji release

Published Apr 15, 2020


CAPE TOWN - The coronavirus pandemic is finding itself infecting all corners of every industry, including the production of new emojis originally set for release in 2021, which has now been delayed until 2022.

Unicode Consortium, a non-profit organisation that is responsible for new releases and emoji standards, considers proposals from the public on a regular basis in order to include it into the standard set.

The Consortium has three requirements for a new emoji to be accepted and included. Firstly it rests on its compatibility with frequent use in popular existing systems like Snapchat and Twitter.

Secondly, evidence to show its expected usage level - expected frequency of use, the ability to have multiple usages or notable metaphorical references, the ability for the new emoji to be used in sequence and if it represents something new.

And lastly, the emoji proposals are rated on its distinctiveness, if it represents a visually depictable entity.

However, the planned annual release of new emoji’s for 2021 has been postponed by six months from March 2021 to September 2021 and this revised schedule means it will only be released in 2022. Under normal circumstances, new sets of emoji’s are approved by January to be released across devices by September.

Mark Davis, president of the Consortium provided a statement explaining how the pandemic has caused this delay. "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 organisations that depend on the standard to push out our release date".

Although its not all bad news, 117 new emoji’s will still be released this year in September. These include a string of gender-neutral characters; one in a Christmas hat, in a tuxedo and wearing a veil. As well as a transgender flag, polar bear, mammoth and organs like the heart and lungs, to name a few.

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