Apple’s iOS 8.3 launched for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch owners earlier today, and among the comprehensive list of changes made to the mobile operating system is a revamped emoji keyboard. In particular, the range of emoji now available to iOS device users is far more diverse than before.
You’ll notice in iOS 8.3, for instance, emoji which reflect a bigger range of family types; both opposite-sex and same-sex parent families, each with different selections of children, are available in the revamped emoji keyboard. You can also hold down on certain emoji in order to access different skin tones, as you can see in the below screenshot.
Usefully, the emoji picker itself is much easier to use: there’s a larger range of categories along the bottom of the keyboard, and these better reflect the kind of emoji housed in each one. Plus, users can swipe through every single emoji in the keyboard, moving through each and every category available, and this, too, is a nice change.
Of course, you’ll need to be running iOS 8.3 (or, on the Mac, OS X 10.10.3) in order to view the new emoji, but even if you aren’t, Apple has a solution. It seems, after running a few tests, that new emoji are substituted into old emoji in a rather formulaic manner when sent to a device which hasn’t been updated. So, for instance, the new emoji depicting two women kissing becomes, on pre-iOS 8.3 devices, an emoji string of girl-heart-kiss-girl, if that makes sense. This usefully means that the meaning of Apple’s new emoji is still communicated, even if the emoji itself doesn’t appear on a recipient’s iOS device.
Apple’s iOS 8.3 is available to download now in the “Software Update” section of the built-in Settings app. Besides new emoji, the update also brings additional languages for Siri, support for wireless CarPlay connectivity, and more.
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