how apple's latest emoji update addresses gun violence

The tech giant will also add more gender-diverse emoji and an updated Pride flag as it officially steps into the gun control debate.

by Hannah Ongley
02 August 2016, 4:04pm

The debate over racially and gender-diverse emoji has emphasized the importance of representation and identity in a world where 94 million iPhones are in use in the U.S. alone. Recently Apple introduced new skin tones and same-sex families into the Unicode Consortium in what might have been one of the most lowkey important phone updates in recent history, but it's not just missing emoji that was causing concern. As the gun violence conversation has grown louder in recent months, following repeat instances of police brutality and terror attacks, so have the calls for Apple to remove the increasingly controversial gun emoji. A campaign by NYC activist group New Yorkers Against Gun Violence used the hashtag #DisarmTheiPhone to condemn the tech behemoth's failure to take a stand for gun control. Apple has now done just that, announcing that the iOS 10 update would see the pistol emoji replaced with a plastic green water gun. 

"This exciting update brings more gender options to existing characters, including new female athletes and professionals, adds beautiful redesigns of popular emoji, a new rainbow flag and more family options," the brand said on Monday. "Apple is working closely with the Unicode Consortium to ensure that popular emoji characters reflect the diversity of people everywhere."

While a percentage of the internet is questioning whether the update will actually address gun violence, that's not necessarily the point. Racial tensions in America have hardly eased since the introduction of diverse skin tones, but symbolism is still very powerful. Apple should be commended for at least bringing attention to the important issue. 


Text Hannah Ongley
Image via Apple