How Can I Get The Unicode 9 Emoji? The Answer Is A Little More Complicated Than You Think
It’s official: The Unicode Consortium recently confirmed 72 new emoji for the Unicode 9 set, which is scheduled to drop later in June of 2016. If you’re wondering how to get the Unicode 9 emoji, though, I have some unfortunate news for you: You’re going to have to be patient, because it’s not a simple answer. Indeed, you might not be able to get a hold of them for a good long while.
Here’s the thing: Although the Unicode Consortium is the group responsible for deciding which emoji make the cut for the Unicode Standard and roughly what they look like in black-and-white mockups, what they’re not in charge of is designing and implementing each emoji across each individual platform — that’s up to the platforms themselves. I’ve touched upon this once before, but the general gist of it is that Unicode itself is an international coding standard. Since computers basically deal with numbers, Unicode assigns a unique numeric value to each and every letter, digit, or symbol, which applies across a huge variety of different platforms and programs. I don’t really want to say it’s like Esperanto for computers… but it’s kind of like Esperanto for computers.
Anyway, the point is that it’s meant to be universal. Prior to the creation of Unicode, there were hundreds of different encoding systems that assigned the numeric values computers use to “read” all those letters, digits, and symbols; Unicode, however, streamlined the whole thing into one system that many different platforms could use. A huge number of platforms use Unicode now: Apple, Oracle, Microsoft, and more.
The upshot is that, while Unicode sets the standard, when it comes to the actual emoji included in each update, it’s up to every platform that uses Unicode to decide how each emoji displays on it, as well as whether to implement them at all (and if so, when). So although Unicode 9 is scheduled for release later this month, the emoji contained within the update won’t be immediately available on, say, your iPhone, or within WhatsApp, or on Gchat — Apple, WhatsApp, and Google will all have to design their own versions of the Unicode 9 emoji and deploy them first.
So, ultimately, the answer to the question “how can I get the Unicode 9 emoji?” is: After your favorite platform has designed them, implemented them, and released them in an update, you’ll have all the access to them you could ever want just by using the platform in the same way you always do. There isn’t, however, a way to get the whole set straight from Unicode. Sorry about that.