Brown Mushrooms, Shaking Heads, and 115 More New Emojis Will Arrive in iOS 17.4

iOS 17.4 Emoji 15.1 from Emojipedia Credit: Emojipedia
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Now that Apple has taken care of all the big new iOS 17 features, it’s turning its attention to adding some new emojis into the mix. The first iOS 17.4 beta was seeded to developers this week, bringing the latest collection of glyphs approved in last fall’s Emoji 15.1 specification.

There aren’t too many surprises here, as we already saw a sneak preview of the draft spec last summer, but as is often the case, it takes time for Apple to roll these new emojis into production. The Unicode Consortium, which is responsible for ensuring character standards across multiple platforms, approves a major new character code standard each fall, including new emoji characters. Still, these are ratified far too late to make it into Apple’s major iOS releases.

Typically, Apple pushes off the new emoji until it’s dealt with everything else, so their arrival in iOS 17.4 is right on schedule. Previous new emojis similarly appeared in iOS 14.5, iOS 15.4, and iOS 16.4.

After all, the Unicode Consortium doesn’t actually draw the emoji characters. Rather, they simply provide the outline for what they should look like. It’s up to each platform to interpret those concepts, which is why the same emojis look slightly different between Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung’s platforms.

Even the previews Emojipedia offered last summer were just their own concept images created by Emojipedia’s Head of Emoji Design, Joshua Jones. The folks at Emojipedia tend to adopt Apple’s style, but the final designs are ultimately up to the artists at Apple.

New Emojis in iOS 17.4

Already, we can see where Apple’s designers have taken a slightly different approach from what Emojipedia imagined.

For example, while Emoji 15.1 adds a Lime as an expansion of the Lemon emoji, effectively just defining a green color, Apple has chosen to render it with an entirely different look as a lime wedge rather than the entire fruit.

iOS 17.4 Emoji 15.1 Lime Emojipedia concept vs Apple

On the other hand, Apple’s take on the Brown Mushroom is more in line with its rendering of the standard Nintendo-like Mushroom emoji, losing the ragged edges that the gang at Emojipedia envisioned, and Phoenix Bird, which is a combination of the Bird and Fire emojis, looks more detailed and less cartoonish.

In total, there are 118 new emojis coming in iOS 17.4. However, as with prior releases, most of these are far more basic variations of existing emojis, designed to create gender-neutral family groupings and flipped, right-facing versions of Person Running, Person Walking, Person Kneeling, Person with White Cane, Person in Manual Wheelchair, and Person in Motorized Wheelchair.

It’s these flipped versions that count for the bulk of the new emojis since each one has three gender options and five skin tone modifiers in addition to basic yellow. That results in 18 possible combinations for each of the above people emojis, for a total of 108 “new” emojis.

As with all new emoji releases, both the sender and recipient must be on platforms supporting the same emoji standards. This means that while those on the iOS 17.4 beta can see and select the new emoji, they won’t appear correctly for anybody still running iOS 17.3 or an older version.

However, the good news is that at least some other platforms are ahead of the curve here. Samsung added the new Emoji to its One UI 6.0 update in October, and Google began rolling out its versions of the new emoji in November. This means most folks running Android 14 should now have access to them, and they should be slowly arriving on Google’s web-based platforms like Gmail and YouTube.

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