In today’s world, representation is becoming more and more important, not only to consumers but to big tech companies such as Apple and now, Google.
In a move to add more diversity and inclusion into its brand Pixel phones, Google created 53 new non-binary emoji that will be exclusive to its Pixel devices. The change is part of the Andriod Q update that’s expected to come to all devices running Andriod Q later this year, according to 9 to 5 Google.
Jennifer Daniel, designer at Google, told Fast Company that Google is not calling this the non-binary character, the third gender, or an asexual emoji–and not gender neutral.
“Gender neutral is what you call pants,” Daniel told Fast Company in an interview. “But you can create something that feels more inclusive.”
According to Fast Company, these 53 new emoji will launch this week and “they’ve been designed to live between the existing male and female emoji and recognize gender as a spectrum.”
“Given that Google collaborates with many of its rivals on emoji, it’s likely that Apple and others will release their takes on genderless emoji later this year,” Fast Company wrote.
Emojipedia reported the development of these emoji in early March with the update including a non-binary police officer, zombie, person face-palming, construction work and people with bunny ears.
The blog reported that this was revealed in a submission to the Unicode Consortium by Google.
“Google will be giving the ‘ungendered’ base human emojis a ‘gender inclusive’ appearance in a future release, as per Unicode recommendation,” Google wrote in its March submission to the Unicode Consortium. “In the future, Google would also like to see additional sequences added as RGI to improve consistency across the human emoji set.”
According to google, the creation of these emojis represents an effort to be faithful to Unicode’s standards, push inclusivity as a priority into Unicode standards, and to create an emoji experience that is more intuitive to navigate.
As reported by Fast Company Google decided to be the first company to fill this emoji space between men and women symbols, and to acknowledge gender’s fluidity rather than a binary structure.
“It’s like we’re all at the pool and it’s like the water is cold. Some people want to go swimming, but we’ll wait for someone to swim first,” Daniel told Fast Company. “We just dove in first.” Gender is complicated, Daniel told Fast Company.
“It is an impossible task to communicate gender in a single image,” she told Fast Company. “It’s a construct. It lives dynamically on a spectrum. I personally don’t believe there is one visual design solution at all, but I do believe to avoid it is the wrong approach here.”
As Unicode consortium recently updated the emoji world with an update of more diverse persons within the emoji catalog, Google’s step toward gender inclusive emojis moves the initiative to continue creating inclusive ways for people to communicate.
Sources: Unicode.org, 9 to 5 Google, Fast Company