The company is releasing 53 new "gender-fluid" emoji on Pixel phones in beta starting this week, with the goal of rolling them out to all Android Q phones later this year, according to Fast Company, which described them as being designed so that they weren't explicitly male nor female. Google apparently wants to reinvent the emoji keyboard with new characters that can be applied to anyone or family.
Currently, there are thousands of emoji available. In more recent years, there has been a lot of work done in order to make available more inclusive emoji that reflect a multitude of races and genders and sexual orientations. The downside of this, of course, is that there is an endless amount of emoji to choose from when you open the emoji keyboard, and it makes it hard to quickly find one.
Google went through many drafts to create characters that are non binary or more open to interpretation. The new merperson, for instance, has an orange tail, with crossed arms rather than pecs or a seashell bra. "There’s no singular way of getting it right,” explained Google designer Jennifer Daniel. “Gender is complicated. It is an impossible task to communicate gender in a single image."
"It’s a construct," Daniel explained to Fast Company. "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. We can’t avoid race, gender, any other number of things in culture and class. You have to stare it in the face in order to understand it. That’s what we’re trying to do".
For now, the 53 new emoji will still get a gender if sent to a non-Google smartphone, but Daniel hopes other companies will follow suit.