Emoji don't just appear out of nowhere. Behind every avocado, unicorn and taco, someone, somewhere, has had to suggest, approve, design and create each individual image.
In fact, there's a huge group of people in charge of developing new emoji. They review requests, identify potential issues and, most importantly, help this universal language to develop. These emoji guardians, as we like to call them, are based in Silicon Valley, and you'll find them operating under the name of the Unicode Consortium.
Who approves new emoji?
Communicating without emoji seems unthinkable, and we have the Unicode Consortium to thank for the characters we know and love today. A non-profit organisation made up of both corporations and volunteers with backgrounds in typography, linguistics and tech, the group have been carefully taking care of what we now know as emoji since 1991.
Originally, the Unicode Consortium were created to develop standards for turning the alphabet into a code that could be understood across all operating systems and computers. To this day, they're involved with a lot more than just emoji - but it's the colourful characters they're most known for. They release anywhere from 50 to 100 emoji every year.
Who can submit an emoji request?
Have a brilliant idea for an emoji? You'll be pleased to hear that absolutely anyone can suggest a new one - there's even a form on the Unicode website.
Having your request accepted, however, isn't quite as easy. The form is serious business, and you'll be required to provide an example image of what your emoji will look like. Compatibility, expected usage, requested frequency and more are to be considered, and a proposed emoji can take up to two years to appear on our keyboards.
Once approved however, it's down to app-makers and phone manufacturers to decide what each emoji will look like - hence why certain emoji can look different depending on whether you use Twitter or Facebook, the iPhone X or the Google Pixel 2, for example.
Emoji in the news
While emoji might seem frivolous to some, they're no joke to millions of enthusiastic smartphone users. Facebook recently highlighted just how much we rely on emoji when they spoke to Adweek during World Emoji Day. The company revealed that over 60 million emoji are used daily across the social network alone. A whopping 5 billion were also sent via Facebook Messenger in just 24 hours.
It's no surprise then that things can get rather heated when emoji hit the news. Recently, the burger emoji caused a Twitter frenzy when keen-eyed users spotted the difference between Apple and Google's interpretations of the tasty meal. The ingredient-stacking-order ignited a heated discussion amongst users when Google placed the cheese first on their burger.
Anyone distraught by this burger news will be pleased to hear that Sundar Pichai, Google's CEO, is now fully aware of the mistake - he even said he would 'drop everything' to fix the issue (if the people of Twitter could agree on the right cheese, lettuce, burger order of course).
The case of the frowning poop
An emoji that didn't quite make it, but really kicked up a stink, is the frowning poop. Anticipated to be released in 2018, the Unicode Consortium flushed the hopes of emoji lovers away. Why? The 12-page proposal was rejected as many thought the idea being floated was embarrassing and cheapened the Unicode Consortium's image.
Two members who objected rather vocally to the emotive poop were Michael Everson and Andrew West. Everson even stated, 'as an ordinary user, I don’t want this kind of crap on my phone'… excuse the pun.
New emoji for 2017
What do an elf, a genie, a dinosaur and a vampire have in common? Answer - they're a handful of the new emoji that arrived with Apple's iOS 11.1 update. If you're an iPhone user you can now enjoy the new offerings, alongside 66 other expressions, characters and objects - all of which you never knew you needed.
Interestingly, this batch of emoji included a fair amount of new mystical creatures, intercontinental foods and everyday expressions. But even though the Unicode Consotium approves our emoji, the masterminds behind the proposed ideas may not be who you think they are. Here are three notable emoji and their imaginative inventors:
- Hijab-wearing woman (top middle): The hijab-wearing woman is all thanks to the efforts of 15-year-old Rayouf Alhumedhi, who set upon a mission to have an emoji created that better represented her and her religion.
- Breast-feeding woman (top left): an emoji proposed by Rachel Lee, a nurse at the University College London Hospital.
- Gender-neutral character (top right): an inclusive proposal by Paul Hunt, a designer at Adobe.
What makes these emoji even more admirable is that they were all proposed by members of the public who identified a need for more diverse characters. Unicode heard their requests and made their wishes come true (thanks, genie emoji).
Of course, smartphones have more to offer than just emoji. Discover everything your smartphone can do.
If you're on the hunt for a brand new mobile to make the most of this year's emoji, don't forget to check Mobiles.co.uk.