As of 2015, emojis had only one skin tone. But in a more and more inclusive world, this had to be corrected. Therefore, the Unicode Consortium, a non-profit organization responsible for standardizing letters and characters on computers following the Unicode system, decided to introduce the skin tone modifier to a handful of emojis in 2015. Since then, the power to choose Skin tone is something that has been trickling down to many other emojis, including at least a dozen hand gestures.
A handshake of the same color
But, if there is the option of being able to choose a different skin tone, why can’t alternative tones be chosen within the same emoji? Why should the handshake icon always be with 2 hands of the same skin tone, why not one white and the other black for example?
The historian of emoji and founder of Emojipedia, Jeremy Burger, who has pointed out that “The handshake requires new code points for each hand to support mixed skin tones , and this has been in planning since 2019 ”.
“Last year, Emoji 12.0 added support for the emoji of people holding hands with different skin tones,” said the historian. The Emoji 13.1 Unicode draft candidates also preselected more two-person emojis, including support for mixed skin tones for all Couple Kiss and Couple Heart variations.
This is how the emoji will look when the new variants are added
It’s up to the code and will be included soon
The same goes for the emoji handshake. “At this stage the skin tone support for the handshake emoji is written for Emoji 14.0, which means it could be on phones in 2021-2022.” The funny thing is that the mixed tone variations of the handshake emoji hands are ready, but only in a limited capacity:
“Some platforms already support the shared skin tone for the handshake, but others seem to be withholding any skin tone support until each hand can support a different skin tone,” noted the founder of Emojipedia.
Unicode prefers not to touch families
Although things like the mixed handshake will have these options to see two different skin tones, the person in charge of the emojis does not want to see this applied to the series of emojis that are about families – no children, with children, etc.
The reason? Too much work: “Unicode has declared a preference for leaving those as is. It would take over 7,000 combinations to support a different skin tone for each family member in each of the family’s emoji options, and this is deemed impractical and difficult to implement for most vendors and brands.”