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.)