For those of us who feel reasonably confident that woman are capable of swimming, cycling or working for the police, the gender bias in our emoji keyboard has long been a source of frustration. Why is it only men who can go for a swim in emoji-land? Why do women have the option of being princesses, but not policemen or paramedics? And who on earth are the dancing bunny girls?
Earlier this year, Google approached Unicode, the company that creates emojis, and asked them to design more gender-balanced options. Now, Apple has announced that the raft of new emojis will officially launch with its new software this autumn.
The new iOS 10 update will feature a range of new icons to better represent gender and sexual diversity (and you’ll still be able to choose from a range of different ethnicities). From September, expect to see WhatsApp messages and Instagram captions populated by female athletes and professionals from cyclists to detectives, as well as – hurrah! – dancing bunny boys. In the aftermath of the Orlando shootings, a rainbow banner has also been added to the flags category.
Single parents will also be represented for the first time – so whether your family is made up of two mums with one son or the single father of two girls, you’ll be able to depict yourself in emoji form (unless there are more than two kids in your family, in which case, tough).
Perhaps the most unexpected change, however, is the news that the silver gun is to be replaced by a little green water pistol. The update comes in the aftermath of several horrific incidents of gun violence in the US and around the world.
Although Apple hasn’t confirmed their specific motive for getting rid of the gun, the move has been praised by gun-control organisations in the US.
“Apple has stood up to the bullying tactics of the NRA [National Rifle Association] and gun industry by showing that there are many more life-affirming ways to express oneself than with a gun,” Leah Barrett, executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, told CNN.