Many years after people have gotten used to the yellow-skinned emojis on our phones, a multi-skin toned handshake emoji is finally rolling out in 2022.
In a blog post published on April 30, Google said that its creative director for emojis, Jennifer Daniel, first thought of creating the more inclusive emoji back in 2019. Daniel submitted the proposal to IT company Unicode Consortium with details on how to create 25 possible combinations of different skin-toned shaking hands.
But developing an emoji was no walk in the park. Daniel said it would usually take up to two years. And while the yellow-skinned handshake emoji already existed, redesigning it would require making two new emoji hands—each in various skin tones—in order to “make the ‘old’ handshake new again.”
Google also reported that aside from the actual coding, COVID-19 added new hurdles to the development of the emoji. Jennifer expected that it would land on devices in 2021, but because of the pandemic, all Unicode deployments were delayed six months.
Fortunately, after two years in development, the multi-skin toned emoji is now set to launch in the emoji 14.0 update slated for 2022. It will allow users to change the skin tones of both left and right hands for a total of 25 various combinations.
For Jennifer, it’s a feat that goes beyond the mobile screen. “These kinds of explorations are really important because the Unicode Consortium and Google really care about bringing inclusion into the Unicode Standard,” she said. “Every time we add a new emoji, there’s a risk it could exclude people without our consciously knowing it. The best we can do is ensure emoji continues to be as broad, flexible, and fluid as possible. Just like language. Just like you.”