In the upcoming 5.8 release, WordPress is updating its version of Twemoji, Twitter’s open source emoji library that supports the latest Unicode emoji specification. Version 13.1.0 introduces five new smileys and emotions, including heart on fire, mending heart, face with spiral eyes, face in clouds, and face exhaling.
Version 13.1 adds mixed skin tone support for all variations of the “Kiss” emoji and the “Couple with Heart” emoji. It also makes it possible to add a bearded man or a bearded woman in all skin tone variations.
WordPress 5.8 will also include significant changes to the syringe emoji that were committed to a previous version of Twemoji (13.0.2) earlier this year. Instead of a blood-filled barrel accented with drops of blood leaking out of the tip, the new syringe emoji contains a non-specific liquid. This makes it more flexible for use cases that don’t involve removing blood. Emojipedia has a fascinating look at the syringe emoji’s history, dating back to 1999 when it was primarily used in Japan for blood donation. A 2021 refresh on the syringe makes it possible for it to be used in reference to vaccines, a topic of public conversation across the globe.
In addition to changes to the syringe, Jonathan Desrosiers, who opened the trac ticket to initiate the update, summarized a few other changes from previous Twemoji versions that modify existing emoji:
- Cricket: the colors have been adjusted to improve readability on small screens and to prevent confusion with other Emoji that had a similar color.
- T-Rex: The color and posture of the T-Rex has been adjusted.
- Portuguese flag: A line within the flag’s circle has been corrected.
- Thai flag: The proportions of the stripes for this flag have been corrected.
- Fox face: The symmetry has been improved.
- Transgender flag: The lines have been updated to prevent small gaps between stripes from showing when rendered with antialiasing.
- Rolling on the floor laughing: Adjusted to be less exaggerated and appear more natural.
The official emoji lexicon is constantly being tweaked and updated for accuracy, and to better serve conversations, as current events increase demand for visual representations of specific objects and emotions. Although many of these updates and new additions may seem pandemic-inspired, there’s a lengthy, official process for proposing changes to the Unicode Consortium. The Unicode Emoji Subcommittee reviews proposals, which require compelling data on compatibility, expected usage level, distinctiveness, and other factors. Candidates approved for inclusion do not arrive to major platforms for approximately a year.
WordPress 5.8 will bump Twemoji from 13.0.1 to 13.1.0. Unicode 14.0, the next major update, is expected for release in late 2021. Emojipedia has a draft list of what is on deck for the next version and those that are approved would likely make it to major platforms by the end of 2022.