​Apple's new emojis: Hello diversity, goodbye gun

Emojis may be small, but they can stir up big emotions.

Apple (AAPL) plans to introduce more than 100 new and redesigned emojis this fall, including a more diverse list of characters, such as female professionals and athletes, as well as more family options and a rainbow flag.

The company said in a statement it is working "to ensure that popular emoji characters reflect the diversity of people everywhere."

The new emojis will be available to iPhone and iPad users whose devices are equipped with iOS 10, the mobile platform Apple is expected to launch in September.

Included in the emoji changes is a redesign of the revolver image, with Apple changing the weapon to a water pistol. That alteration is causing the most reaction, ranging from support to ridicule.

There's some history behind the squirt gun controversy: Apple is ditching the firearm emoji for a plastic toy after pressure from gun-control advocates, including one group's campaign called #DisarmThePhone. In an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, the campaign said, "Many Americans unknowingly carry a gun with them every day. The one that was given to them without a background check: the gun emoji.


Apple's latest emojis, which the company is expected to introduce this fall, will replace an image of a handgun with that of a water pistol.


It's not the first time Apple has taken a stance on firearms. The tech giant had reportedly blocked the rollout of a rifle emoji.

While some consumers point out that changing the pistol to a water gun isn't likely to halt gun violence, other critics are complaining that remaking an emoji could create confusion.

"The bomb, syringe and knife all remain in non-toy form, so I'm not sure I see the benefit of changing just this single image," Emojipedia founder Jeremy Burge told Business Insider. "In particular, making dramatic changes to an emoji appearance is terrible for backward-compatibility."

There's also the issue of compatibility between platforms, with Business Insider pointing out that Apple's water pistol looks like a fun toy, while other platforms will continue to use the pistol emoji. That could create confusion if an Apple user sends a lighthearted water-pistol emoji and an Android-using recipient sees a threatening pistol, the piece noted.

Less controversial is the addition of more female characters to Apple's emoji lineup. While the Apple keyboard offers emoji in distinctly gendered roles -- the male emojis are a policeman, detective and construction worker, among others -- the women emojis include a bride, princess and dancers.


In announcing its new emojis, Apple said it wants to "reflect the diversity of people everywhere."


"Where, I wanted to know, was the fierce professor working her way to tenure?" asked Ohio Wesleyan University professor Amy Butcher in The New York Times earlier this year. "Where was the lawyer? The accountant? The surgeon? How was there space for both a bento box and a single fried coconut shrimp, and yet women were restricted to a smattering of tired, beauty-centric roles?"

The new emoji will include a female detective, construction worker, surfer, weightlifter and basketball player, among others.