Google is working on a new set of gender fluid emoji that consists of 53 non-binary characters. The new emoji are neither male or female, instead opting for a third gender neutral option for those who identify as neither. The emoji are rolling out to Pixel phones this week, but will eventually come to all devices running Android Q.
Google designers spent a lot of time deciding what exactly a genderless emoji would look like, and the hair seemed to be the most important factor. In order to bridge the gap between male and female, it went with a hairstyle which parts the hair to the side with longer hair in the back.
There are also other small changes for certain characters. For example, the vampire character distinguishes itself with a chain instead of the bow tie found on the male version while the merperson adorns an orange color and crosses their arms to cover their chest instead of having a seashell bra like the female version.
Google collaborates with others on emoji standards, and Jennifer Daniel is not only the director of Android emojis, but she also sits on the Unicode consortium that sets emoji standards. This makes it more likely we'll see Apple and others join up and release its own version of genderless emoji at some point down the road.
In other words, while the new emoji won't be very accessible to everyone right now, Google has gotten the ball rolling for others to follow suit. Once the new emoji have been released, if you send one to a device or app that is unsupported, it will be converted to a male or female gender until other companies release gender fluid emojis as well.
When it comes to emojis, no matter how inclusive Google's own set might be, it takes everyone getting on the same page before they can be 100% available for everyone.