Owen WilliamsFormer TNW employee
Owen was a reporter for TNW based in Amsterdam, now a full-time freelance writer and consultant helping technology companies make their word Owen was a reporter for TNW based in Amsterdam, now a full-time freelance writer and consultant helping technology companies make their words friendlier. In his spare time he codes, writes newsletters and cycles around the city.
There’s a big update to Unicode on the horizon and that means not only new emoji — hello, taco — but a number of changes for those that already exist and are under hot debate.
The contents of a ‘public review issue‘ (PRI) request from the Unicode Consortium – the group that defines the standard – clarifies the meaning of a number of controversial symbols.
For example, the document details ?, which is often used to indicate high-five. The group says that it is not a high-five and indicates “praying, bowing or thanking.”
The document discusses a number of other emoji such as ?, (“information desk person”) saying that it’s “often used to indicate ‘sassy’ or ‘carefree'” as well as ☺️ (“flushed face”) to indicate more embarrassment, as the meaning currently gets lost between iOS and Android phones .
The most controversial one up for change is ? (“woman with bunny ears”), which came under fire last month when Apple extended the ears on its version.
The group suggests that people “far prefer the two woman dancing” than the “playboy bunny appearance” and that it should update the standard to lessen the focus on the ears.
It also specifically calls out the ? (“dancer”), which is depicted very differently by both Microsoft and Google from Apple, saying that “a gender-neutral image like Android or Windows might be a noble goal, but it removes some aspect of how this is used” and that “Apple’s dancing woman has become very iconic.”
You can view all of the proposals here, the majority of which were recently accepted as part of the upcoming standard. The guide is only intended to help phone makers produce emoji and different companies’ versions do not have to look identical.
Unicode 8.0, which includes these updates and a number of new emoji, is expected to be published in “mid 2015” although you can view the proposed additions here already.
Read next: These are Apple’s new, diverse emoji
Get the TNW newsletter
Get the most important tech news in your inbox each week.