Sleepy Faces, Leafless Trees, and Beets | Here’s a Sneak Peek of the Emojis Coming to iOS 18

Emoji 16.0 beta proposal
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If you’re already bored with the brown mushrooms and shaking heads in iOS 17.4, then the Unicode Consortium has some good news for you. The group responsible for developing and standardizing Emojis has just announced the next wave of glyphs that will eventually find their way into iOS 18.

Sadly, this year’s proposals aren’t as vibrant as a phoenix bird or as juicy as a lime wedge. Instead, the Emoji 16.0 beta outlines wearier selections, such as a face with bags under its eyes and a barren tree. Those two are joined by a fingerprint, a root vegetable, a harp, a shovel, and a paint splatter. There’s also a new country flag for the island fief of Sark, although a sample of that hasn’t yet been rendered.

The new emoji proposals are part of the Unicode 16.0 Beta Review, which the Consortium opened today and will run through July 2. Emojis are only a small part of each new Unicode specification, which is also responsible for introducing new characters for foreign languages.

For example, Unicode 16.0 includes seven new scripts for West Africa, Northeast India and Nepal, Albania, and Southwest India, plus new “Moji Joho Kiban” Japanese source references.

While it’s possible the proposed emoji could be changed before the final approval of the spec, that’s not the main purpose of the beta process, which the Consortium says is “intended primarily for review of character property data and changes to algorithm specifications.” Those are the technical details about how the characters are communicated and rendered between platforms.

At this phase of a release, the character repertoire is considered stable. For this release, 5,185 new characters will be added, bringing the total number of encoded characters in Unicode 16.0 to 154,998. Unicode Consortium

However, while the proposed emojis are likely final in concept, the images provided are merely early renders for illustrative purposes. Even renders of the final emoji may differ from what we’re seeing today, and since each platform is able to offer its own interpretations of the spec, what lands on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac will be cooked up by Apple’s creative team.

iOS 17.4 Emoji 15.1 Lime Emojipedia concept vs Apple

For instance, a preview of last year’s Emoji 15.1 spec showed a solid lime, but Apple opted to show that as a lime wedge instead. Apple also removed the blood from the Syringe emoji in iOS 14.5 and typically renders all hardware emojis using its own products: the Headphone emoji uses AirPods Max, the Mobile Phone Emoji is clearly an iPhone, and the Laptop, Man Technologist, and Female Technologist emojis clearly show a MacBook, complete with a tiny Apple logo.

As with all of its products, Apple’s designers sweat the details when creating their emoji designs, including an anatomically correct heart and lungs with actual veins and arteries, flower emojis on the Nesting Dolls and a Coin emoji with “The Crazy Ones” emblazoned on the edge.

When Are These New Emojis Coming?

New emojis tend to walk a long road before they find their way onto our devices. After the Unicode 16.0 spec leaves beta in July, it will go into a draft proposal stage for discussion and commentary before receiving its final approval by the Unicode Consortium. That typically happens in September, which means there’s basically no chance these will come in iOS 18.0.

While Apple could theoretically add them in an iOS 18.1 or iOS 18.2 point release in October or November, it hasn’t followed this timeline since 2020. Fall releases were the norm in those days because the Unicode Consortium typically ratified the new specs earlier in the year. iOS 11.1, iOS 12.1, iOS 13.2, and iOS 14.2 were all October releases that included new emojis from specifications that received their approval in the prior March, May, or June.

However, things changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Unicode Consortium delayed the ratification of the Unicode 14.0 standard into September of 2021, and that’s become the norm ever since. An interim Emoji 13.1 release came to iOS 14.5 to tide us over — the only time we’ve seen two new sets of emoji come in a single major iOS release — but iOS 15 didn’t get the Unicode 14 emojis until iOS 15.4 arrived in early 2023. Apple followed suit with iOS 16.4 and then iOS 17.4 earlier this year.

With the Unicode Consortium still ratifying the new spec in September, it’s a safe bet we won’t see any of these new emojis on our iPhones until early 2025. If Apple sticks with tradition, they’ll likely arrive in iOS 18.4.

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