This time next year, facing your phone’s keyboard and searching for just the right emoji, you may have some new characters at your disposal.
You may be able to tap out something religious, selecting from emoji characters for “prayer beads,” “a mosque,” or “a menorah.”
Or you might say something athletic, choosing from “an ice hockey stick and puck,” “a badminton birdie and racquet,” or “a volleyball.”
Or—perhaps most importantly of all—you might say something culinary. You might tap out a taco or a burrito emoji.
We know this because, late last week, the Unicode Consortium announced the new emoji it is considering releasing in its next standard.
Unicode is the engineering specification that controls how text is rendered on the Internet and almost every other modern computing platform. When you post a status update to Facebook, and your friends on laptops, iPhones, and Androids can read it without any problem, Unicode has made that possible. The Unicode standard makes emoji possible, too, ensuring that when you text a friend a Santa Claus emoji, it stays a Santa.
(When this process breaks down, things get hairy: On iOS devices, a certain emoji renders as a buoyant, yellow heart; to Android users, the same emoji also appears as a heart, but a pink and hirsute one. So someone might text a “yellow heart” … but actually, without realizing it, send something shaggier.)
We don’t get any new emoji, therefore, without the Unicode Consortium declaring them to exist. And while it hasn’t issued any firm yeses or no’s, these are the emoji that the Consortium has said it might bring into the world next summer:
New faces and hands, including a particularly metal one:
- Zipper-Mouth Face
- Money-Mouth Face
- Face With Thermometer
- Nerd Face
- Thinking Face
- Face With Rolling Eyes
- Upside-Down Face
- Face With Head-Bandage
- Robot Face
- Hugging Face
- Sign of the Horns
A set of emoji that completes the zodiac:
- Lion Face
- Bow and Arrow
A category the Consortium deems “Symbols of Religious Significance”:
- Prayer Beads
- Menorah With Nine Branches
- Place of Worship
- Dhyani Buddha
A set of symbols that round out the “missing top sports”:
- Cricket Ball and Bat
- Field Hockey Stick and Ball
- Ice Hockey Stick and Ball
And, last but not least, a category titled “Most popularly requested”:
- Hot Dog
- Bottle With Popping Cork
- Unicorn Face
- Cheese Wedge
Truly, fellow emojizens, our time has come. We may at last communicate pictographically that we saw a unicorn, born in early December, eating a burrito after its field hockey game in which it raised a two-fingered salute to its Metallica-loving brethren.
Or, we have to hope we might. Unicode has kept its lips zipper-sealed about which might actually become a permanent part of the standard.
“There are many possible emoji that could be added, but releases need to be restricted to a manageable number,” says its blog post. “These are candidates—not yet finalized—so some may not appear in the release.”
And even if they all do join 2015’s Unicode release, we might not actually get to use them for a while. After the Consortium officially adopts a new Unicode standard, Apple and Google must implement the new emoji and add them to its pre-existing emoji fonts so they’re easy to type and view. Unicode 7.0, released earlier this year, brought us new emoji that look like a satellite, a chipmunk, and a raised middle finger—but, alas, they still can’t be typed.
But their day, we are assured, will come. Just as the taco emoji will come, too.
We want to hear what you think. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.