Anyone who sends text messages is familiar with picture characters more popularly known as emoticons. The lack of non-white emoticons has prompted some famous personalities to make noise over Twitter and other social media sites.
MTV journalist Joey Parker shared in an online article that he sent an email to Apple’s head honcho Tim Cook informing him about the issue on emoji diversity. It seems that Apple understands the valid need for additional “smileys” because they responded to the inquiry right away.
The tech giant’s VP for worldwide corporate communications Katie Cotton sent word to Parker immediately saying Apple agrees with the concern of Parker and the rest of the online community who feels that there is a dearth of non-Caucasian emoji.
Cotton explained: “Our emoji characters are based on the Unicode standard, which is necessary for them to be displayed properly across many platforms. There needs to be more diversity in the emoji character set, and we have been working closely with the Unicode Consortium in an effort to update the standard.
If one takes a look at the standard list of emojis, which is managed by the Unicode Consortium, it is easy to notice that only 2 out of the almost 800 picture characters represent people of color: “man with gua pi mao” and “man with turban”. (See picture below)
It may take a while before Apple updates its iOS with ethnically diverse emoticons. It is a good thing that a Mauritius-based app company took the initiative and recently launched a range of “colored” picture characters.
Oju Africa, a branch of mobile devices manufacturer Mi-Fone, released the first set of African emojis, which are now available for download through Google’s Play Store. Oju, which is the word for “faces” in Nigerian language Yoruba, is an apt name for a company that quickly addressed the need for equal representation in mobile language.
In a statement the creative director of the African company Eserick Fouché shared the company’s thoughts on the matter: “We follow global trends but we are differentiated by our authentic African voice. So as a brand we wanted to do something that only Africa could pull off, something that could become so iconic that it would have the world talking. I believe what we have created will ensure that every African on the planet won’t be able to help but love it!”
The Afro emoticons were designed for Android users and are compatible with external apps. However, iPhone users will have to wait a bit before the iOS update is released.