If you've ever come across the comments section of a YouTube video, you know that being first at something is usually a very coveted position. However, being first isn't also without its downsides, and Google's recent support of Unicode 9 emoji in Android N might be a good example of that.

On Monday, the Unicode Technical Committee officially approved 72 new emoji to be added to the Unicode Standard, thereby finalizing the process for Unicode 9. Some of our more observant readers will have noticed that this figure is slightly lower than the 74 emoji that were proposed as candidates for Unicode 9: two of the initial proposals were scrapped last month and won't be recommended for implementation by vendors.

The modern pentathlon and rifle emoji as presented in Android N

To be fair, this is more of a minor nuisance than a problem per se — these two emoji were only ever available to a limited number of users under an alpha version of Android, and even if they were removed, it wouldn't be the first feature Google had introduced and removed in Android N. On top of that, since these candidates were withdrawn so late into the approval stage, they will still be encoded into Unicode 9 under the same character codes (U+1F946 for the rifle and U+1F93B for the modern pentathlon emoji). Formally, the only difference is that they will now be classified as symbols (which are drawn in black and white, like ♘ and ♚) instead of emoji. By that logic, there's really not much reason for Google to actually remove support for either character, since they'll both continue being encoded into the Unicode Standard.

It's not clear why the committee decided to backtrack on these two particular candidates, but one reason for the modern pentathlon emoji might have to do with the difficulty in coming up with a suitable sample glyph that had low visual clutter. A pentathlon is a sporting event involving fencing, shooting, swimming, riding, and cross-country running — attempting to fit all that information into a single glyph had already led to vendors adopting wildly different representations of this particular emoji. Google, for instance, decided to only depict riding out of the five sports, and Emoji One seems to have given up and just gone with wrestling instead.

Photo 07-06-2016, 18 24 58Photo 07-06-2016, 18 36 57Photo 07-06-2016, 18 37 12
One of these is not like the others

The next change to the Unicode Standard should come in a year's time with Unicode 10, which currently includes proposals such as orange heart, curling stone, and my favorite, face with raised eyebrow. If you're into that sort of thing, you can find out more about these and other emoji candidates on Emojipedia or on Unicode.org.