Google has lifted the lid on almost 1,000 emoji redesigns that will be arriving in Android 12 later this year. They'll also be appearing in Gmail and Chrome OS even earlier than that, with the new cartoon icons arriving at some point this month.
The emoji that we all use on our phones and laptops have to be approved by the official Unicode organization, but then these little glyphs get reworked and reimagined by Google, Microsoft, Apple and others – that's why emojis look different on different devices.
In a new blog post, Google says it's "polishing up" hundreds of its emoji designs, making them "more universal, accessible and authentic" in the process. The changes apply to both current emojis and new ones arriving later this year.
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The smiley-face-wearing-a-mask emoji is one that is getting a revamp, unsurprisingly: now that we're all living through a global pandemic, wearing a mask is a sign of staying safe and showing kindness rather than being ill, and the new design reflects that.
Another emoji that is getting a new look is the motorway one: if you look closely, the road markings on the current icon don't really make any sense, so that has been fixed. The bikini emoji, meanwhile, has been changed to take away the impression that an invisible person is actually wearing it.
In general, the new pictures – including ones for modes of transport and scissors – are easier to understand and see. The pie emoji has been changed from a very American-style pie to something that makes more sense no matter what country you're from.
Some of the food emojis have been updated to look like they've been properly cooked, so they're far more appealing aesthetically when you drop them into your chats. The croissant, bowl of rice, bacon and shrimp emojis are all getting a redesign.
What's more, Google says some emojis can change color when you switch to dark mode on your device, and that it'll be working to push out emoji updates quicker in the future. Watch out for the new images to appear in Google products over the coming months... oh, and happy World Emoji Day!
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Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.