Emoji Kitchen is one of the funnest things to make its way into Gboard in years, and Google is constantly working on improving the emoji mix-and-match feature. In its latest iteration, we finally get support for the newest emoji that were introduced as part of Unicode 13.1.
Besides getting bumped to the December security level, Pixel phones picked up a pretty big-ass feature drop on Monday. There was so much new stuff that one prominent feature slipped under the radar: We’re talking about the latest Emoji 13.1 version that has gone live for Pixel phones ahead of its planned broader release in 2021.
We have good news for the emoji enthusiasts among you all: 217 new emoji have made it to the final Emoji 13.1 list, meaning that you'll soon have some more faces to send to your friends in text messages. Many of these are just skin tone variations, but there are some completely new emoji.
As the Android 11 team worked on new features and system-level changes over these past few months of the beta process, the Google emoji team was doing the same, adding 117 new entries approved by the Unicode Commission. We got an early look at the updated emoji library last month, and now these emoji are saying hello to everyone as Android 11 begins rolling out to the general public.
Emoji allows for creative forms of self-expression not possible through mere words. The tiny little icons have gotten a lot more customizable since their inception in 1997. Google added support for multiple skin tones with Android Nougat in 2016, and while it's great to see folks from all over represented, the increased number of modifications did introduce UI challenges. Now Gboard is rolling out a new interface that makes selecting between different combinations of skin tone a little bit easier.
Back in April, we were reporting the coronavirus pandemic would delay Unicode 14.0's release by six months, implying no new emoji would be released in 2021. Thankfully, a minor update called Emoji 13.1 is said to be in the making, which should bring some new additions next year.
Like almost any new Android version, Android 11 ships with a selection of new emoji — 117, to be exact. If you currently want to use them in texts and messages, you need to copy and paste them from resources like Emojipedia, but that's finally changing. The latest Gboard beta is adding initial support for the new Emoji 13 set on Android 11.
A new Android version would never be complete without a selection of new emoji. While keyboards and apps can take advantage of the emoji support library introduced with Android O and display any emoji independently, having new smilies in the system itself means you can see them in notifications and in those applications that don't rely on the EmojiCompat library. Subsequently, the Android 11 Beta packs all of the emoticons from the latest Unicode Emoji 13 update.
Microsoft acquired SwiftKey about four years ago, and apart from some additions like optional Microsoft accounts, Bing, and the company's translate feature, it didn't change too much about the popular third-party keyboard. Earlier this year, though, Microsoft's name got more prominent in the app's settings, and now, the Redmond giant has decided it's about time to make it even more obvious whose keyboard you're using. Following a beta test run, the latest stable version of SwiftKey is now called "Microsoft SwiftKey Keyboard" and comes with a refreshed logo.
Each year, the Unicode Consortium receives innumerable suggestions of new emoji to add to the already exhaustive library of designs. Emoji 12.1 was released this past winter and included such hits as "farmer with pitchfork" and "person with probing cane." By the end of this most recent proposal cycle for Emoji 13.0, Unicode had picked roughly 60 designs that now go on to be officially designed and distributed by each emoji-using platform.