Furor Over Apple Emojis

Furor Over Apple Emojis
Image from Flickr byMichelle Lai Lai
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16586324196 688b55628c z Furor Over Apple Emojis
Image from Flickr by Michelle Lai Lai

Asians were not impressed with Apple’s racially diverse emojis released in the second betas of both iOS 8.3 and OS X 10.10.3. The company has come under fire because of an emoji with yellow skin color.


Racially Diverse Emojis

The beta releases of both the iOS 8.3 and OS X 10.10.3 allow users to select their preferred skin tone for emojis, of which Apple had only used one color in the past: white. For the beta releases, users can choose from a variety of colored faces from a drop-down menu, which can be accessed by long-pressing any preferred emoji. With OS X, the skin color can be selected by tapping an arrow next to the characters via OS X’s default Emoji & Symbols viewer.

Yellow ‘Racist’ Emoji?

Some users found the yellow-skinned emoji offensive, associating it with the unpleasant practice of calling Asians “yellow.” Comments accusing Apple of racism are circulating across bloggers in Weibo, according to a report from Quartz.

Weibo is China’s largest microblogging site, equivalent to Facebook. One blogger said the yellow face makes it look like there is a particular race afflicted with jaundice. “Are yellow people really that yellow,” another blogger asked while one questioned Apple’s rationale behind the yellow-skinned character.

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The Chinese aren’t the only ones expressing disgust over the racially diverse emojis. People elsewhere are equally unimpressed.


 Apple’s Rationale

Yellow is the default skin color when selecting an emoji, according to AppleInsider.

This rationale was duly explained by The Washington Post. Yellow is a standard shade for emoticons as far back as the AOL days, Caitlin Dewey wrote, further saying the color is not a skin tone, but “generic” default used for these characters. The default was also used by Microsoft and Google, with emojis across Japan having yellow hues even before Apple’s announcement of racially diverse ones. AOL’s Instant Messenger, popular in the 90’s, has 12 emoticons, all yellow in color, notes Dewey.

Furthermore, the yellow-colored face is how the Unicode standard set its recommendation to have generic emoji symbols, according to co.Design.

More Diversity

The beta releases of iOS 8.3 and OS X 10.10.3 also include the face of Santa Claus with a different skin tone, including yellow. Apple’s racially diverse emojis also include LGBT-friendly symbols, including two dads, and two women kissing each other.

Is Apple iOS 9 is coming by mid-March? Find out here.