New emojis debut on World Emoji Day

Read time 3min 50sec

As the world celebrates World Emoji Day today, more than 117 new emojis are anticipated to make their debut this year, including new coronavirus (COVID-19) emojis.

The new emoji list for 2020 was announced by Emojipedia in January 2020 after new emojis gained approval in January. These are expected to roll out across major platforms throughout 2020.

Among the hugely anticipated emojis this year are bubble tea, bottle-feeding parents, gender-neutral characters, new animals and the transgender flag.

There were over 3 304 emojis in the Unicode Standard as of March 2020 – this includes sequences for gender or skin tone, flags and the components that are used to create keycap, flag and other sequences.

This week, Apple released a preview of new emoji characters coming to iPhone, iPad and Mac later this year, and Android’s latest version, 11 beta, includes a number of new emoji coming to Android devices, with additions including ‘smiling face with tear’ and ‘pinched fingers’.

The most used emoji on Twitter is ‘face with tears of joy, which is an emoji featuring a jovial face laughing, while also crying. It has been used over two billion times in 2020 so far, according to Emoji Tracker. In 2015, it was used over 6.6 billion times. Twitter's second and third most-used new emojis are 'pleading face' and 'woozy face', respectively.

Around 86% of emoji users on Twitter are aged 24 or younger.

In terms of Facebook, more than 700 million emojis are used on Facebook posts every day and another estimated 900 million emojis are sent every day without text on Facebook Messenger. The biggest day for emoji usage on Messenger is New Year’s Eve.

Dean McCoubrey, ICT expert and founder of social media and online safety programme MySociaLife, says emojis have become one of the fastest developing new languages in history, especially among Gen Z and millennials.

“In the same way that devices have become part of our lives, emojis continue to be more inclusive too, with a bigger focus on gender inclusivity this year. MySociaLife is very close to the ground in terms of social media and popular culture for this generation, and we consistently see many dimensions of kids.

“There may be TikTok or Fortnite obsession, but there is also an evolution of being conscious about social issues. New emojis sometimes reflect the trends of the time − this year seeing the inclusion of the transgender icon and the (protest) placard."

Originating on Japanese mobile phones in 1997, emoji became increasingly popular worldwide in the 2010s after being added to several mobile operating systems.

The use of emojis has increased rapidly over the years to now becoming a part of mobile users’ day-to-day life.

A sample of nearly 50 000 tweets from early March 2020, analysed by Emojipedia, revealed the top emojis to be included in conversations about the COVID-19 were: 'microbe'(42%), and the 'face wearing the medical mask' (36%). Other popular emojis strongly associated with COVID-19 include ‘nauseated face’, ‘face vomiting’, ‘sneezing face’ and ‘face with a thermometer’.

For World Emoji Day, Google has announced a number of classic emojis returning to Android this year, including frog, hatching chick, pig face, octopus and spouting whale.

Emojis approved and coming to Apple’s iOS this year include ‘smiling face with tear’, ‘disguised face’, ‘pinched fingers’ and ‘people hugging’. Last year on World Emoji Day, Apple launched new emojis to its visual language, including waffle, flamingo and sloth.

Emoji that are approved by the Unicode Consortium in January often don't make it onto phones until about September. However, Unicode has announced a six-month delay to Unicode 14.0, which was expected to debut in 2021, due to COVID-19 interruptions.

MySociaLife, which teaches 4 000 school pupils annually about life online, advises parents to keep tabs on their children’s online behaviour and the type of emojis they use or receive from peers.

“Emojis have not waned. We live in a visual world, but this requires guidance and navigation for parents, teachers and students. There are few mysterious double meaning emojis that parents should know of; for instance, an eggplant emoji doesn’t necessarily mean that your child is a fan of aubergines, and the shapely apple emoji is less about fruit and more about curves,” according to McCoubrey.

See also