A number of the emoji available to Apple users are being made available in more diverse options as part of a software update from the tech giant.
The latest developer beta of iOS 14.5 – an early version of software which will eventually be released to iPhone owners – has added skin tone variations to emoji featuring couples for the first time.
The couple kissing and couple with heart emoji will now both be customisable, with users able to choose between a range of skin tones for both people in the emoji for the first time, making them more representative.
The update will also see the introduction of several other redesigned emoji, including the heart on fire icon, a heart mending, a woman with a beard, a person with a beard, a face exhaling, a face in clouds and a face with spiral eyes.
Apple confirmed several existing emoji have been updated too, with the headphones emoji now taking on the design of Apple’s AirPods Max and the icons depicting people climbing would now show all of them wearing helmets.
The broad policy around the look of emoji is regulated by the Unicode Consortium, an independent body tasked with overseeing the creation of emoji.
The consortium approves basic designs for new icons each year, but individual companies including Apple, Google, Samsung and Twitter can then create their own stylised versions of each emoji for use within their own ecosystems.
In recent years, efforts have been made to diversify the icons in order to make them more representative of society; with more skin tones variations being introduced, as well as icons to represent different disabilities and broader gender and gender-neutral options being released.
Elsewhere in the iOS update, new features confirmed by Apple include the ability for its voice assistant Siri to start a Group FaceTime call with multiple contacts or with a group, as well as a new Apple Music feature called Lyric Sharing, where users can share lyrics from songs via Messages or social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram Stories.
The update will become available to those in Apple’s developer programme on Monday evening, with a wider rollout to the public coming at a later date.