• 107 new emojis are expected to be introduced in 2022, which would increase the total number of emojis to 3,460.
  • 334 new emojis were released in 2021 and 207 emojis were rolled out in a 2021 update.
  • Emojis have existed since 1995.
  • These popular pictograms have gradually become more diverse and inclusive, including different skin colours and same-sex couple emojis.

2022 will likely see the release of 107 new emojis including beans, the pregnant man and finger hearts, a hand gesture popularized by K-pop stars. The update would grow the number of the popular pictograms to 3,460 next year. The Unicode consortium has recommended the emojis for release, but a final decision is still outstanding.

334 new emojis have been released in 2020 as part of the Unicode Emoji 13.0 and 13.1 updates, with 207 emojis of the latter update rolled out throughout 2021. Users have gained the option to augment their messages with emojis like the bubble tea, the placard and the transgender flag and can look forward to start sending out the flaming heart, the bearded woman and interracial couples this year.

What emojis appear on people’s phones and on their social media platforms is not arbitrary but has been coordinated by the Unicode Consortium since 1995, when the first 76 pictograms were adapted by the U.S. nonprofit. The Consortium has been overseeing the character inventory of electronic text processing since 1991 and sets a standard for symbols, characters in different scripts and – last but not least – emojis, which are encoded uniformly across different platforms even though illustration styles may vary between providers.

Even though the first Unicode listings predate them, a 1999 set of 176 simple pictograms invented by interface designer Shigetaka Kurita for a Japanese phone operator is considered to be the precursor of modern-day emojis. The concept gained popularity in Japan and by 2010, Unicode rolled out a massive release of more than 1,000 emojis to get with the burgeoning trend - the rest is history.

What's the World Economic Forum doing about diversity, equity and inclusion?

The COVID-19 pandemic and recent social and political unrest have created a profound sense of urgency for companies to actively work to tackle inequity.

The Forum's work on Diversity, Equality, Inclusion and Social Justice is driven by the New Economy and Society Platform, which is focused on building prosperous, inclusive and just economies and societies. In addition to its work on economic growth, revival and transformation, work, wages and job creation, and education, skills and learning, the Platform takes an integrated and holistic approach to diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice, and aims to tackle exclusion, bias and discrimination related to race, gender, ability, sexual orientation and all other forms of human diversity.

Different skin colors have been available for emojis since 2015. 2014 saw the release of the anti-bullying emoji "eye in speech bubble" in cooperation with The Ad Council, which produces public service announcements in the United States. Regional flags came to the service in 2017. Same-sex couples and same-sex families have been available since the first major emoji-release in 2010. The 2020/21 release also includes the rollout of non-binary options and interracial couples.

chart showing the history of emojis from 1995 - present
A history of emojis from 1995 to present.
Image: Statista