This Is Why It Takes So Long to Make New Emojis

January 26, 2016, 4:31 PM UTC
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY TUPAC POINTU A picture shows emoji characters also known as emoticons on the screens of two mobile phones in Paris on August 6, 2015. Forget traditional banners and promotional videos, brands are turning to emojis to communicate with their Generation Z target audience. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL MEDINA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by Miguel Medina—AFP/Getty Images

That poop emoji survived a lengthy process of committee meetings and public scrutiny before ending up on your iPhone’s keyboard.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Unicode Consortium co-founder and president Mark Davis explained who, exactly, controls the world’s emoji options, and why adding new emojis takes so long.

Anyone is allowed to submit a proposal for a new emoji to Unicode, which is the non-profit group that governs and standardizes emojis. “It’s more than just saying, ‘Well, I think there should be a drunken chipmunk emoji,'” Davis said. “You have to give us some good reasons that would establish why it would be a successful and valuable addition.”

The 100 or so emoji proposals each year are sent to an emoji committee that judges the submissions on how frequently they might be used. Then, they forward submissions to a technical committee, says Davis. Then, the best emojis are placed on the Unicode site for a six-month period of public comment—a process not unlike the federal government’s commenting period for regulations. Only then can an emoji face the final annual committee meeting that decides to add the image to the Unicode collection.

While creating the emoji image doesn’t take very long, Davis said that creating options like toggling through skin tones for each emoji can add as much as a year in developing time.

Vendors like Apple and Google choose from Unicode’s offerings to update their emoji keyboards.

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