Like anything else, they're better with bacon
The emoji in iOS 10.2 are approaching the uncanny valley, but that’s not going to stop me from slapping them onto every iMessage, tweet, and email until the end of time. The newly released iOS 10.2 includes emoji from the Unicode 9.0 standard, featuring a more realistic look, male and female options for more emoji, and plenty of new designs. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Cowboys and selfies and clowns, oh my
Unicode 9 emoji have a more realistic look, with more shadowing and gloss. I love the new selfie arm, which comes in multiple skin tones. The even-creepier clown face is so 2016 it’s unbelievable.
Gimme a hand
The fist bump comes in every skin tone, and in both left- and right-handed versions. The hang–10 emoji is totally chill, brah.
The most changed are the people emoji. iOS 10.2 is adopting tons of new professions and designs from the Unicode 9.0 emoji, including more male and female versions of the same thing, as well as skin tone options for just about everything. I’m loving the David Bowie-esque rockers.
Working for a living
New professions include these as well as astronaut, chef, artist, pilot, and judge. I love the little MacBook users, too—and yes, you can change the skin tones, but no, you can’t turn the MacBooks from silver to space gray.
These are the people in your neighborhood
The pregnant emoji is cute, although I’d like more and cuter options for baby emoji than the single one we have now. My friends and I use the “information desk” emoji next to it to represent a hair flip, usually to express either dismissiveness or a job well done. (“I told him, ‘Boy, bye,’ [hair flip]” is an example of both.) So it tickles me that we have a men’s version now too, to go with the male twins we got in iOS 10. The male disco dancer is amazing, and the female dancer has a lot more detail, showing much more leg skin and both shoes.
And what did we ever do without emojis for shrug and face palm?
Good enough to eat
Where the more realistic sheen really does make a difference is in the food section. Some of these emoji are making my mouth water, for real. Look at the gloss on that donut. That perfectly neat whiskey. Paella in a pan! Lettuce and tomato added to the cheeseburger. Shiny foil around the Mission-style burrito. And since the developer beta, Apple actually reversed one decision, and brought back the old peach design that looks more like a derrière than this screenshot.
Sportsball and the emoji who love it
The football and badminton emoji aren’t new but have new looks. The fencer, martial arts uniform, and water polo players are new, the skis now come with boots, and everything got an extra layer of polish.
Smileys & People
Now you can see every single emoji in both iOS 10 (on the top), and iOS 10.2 (bottom). We’ll go through it page by page.
The first page of smileys and people contains a few new options, like the ccowboy and the clown, but mostly things haven’t changed too much. I love the falling-over-laughing guy.
Smileys, page 2
New smilies on this page include the fist bump (in both directions!), crossed fingers, and a lipstick. We also start to see some more sophisticated re drawings, like the single eyeball, and the cooler-looking Space Invader character.
Smileys, page 3
iOS 10 only has three pages in this section, but iOS 10.2 adds tons of new professional emoji, almost an entire page's worth. (These screenshots were taken with a 9.7-inch iPad Pro in landscape mode—click any of them to see it larger.) Notable additions include astronauts, farmers, and David Bowie.
A fourth page of smileys in iOS 10.2
In iOS 10.2, this section spills onto a fourth page. You can tap and hold almost every yellow face to select from a range of skin tones instead.
Animals & Nature
Can you spot any new critters in the iOS 10.2 emoji (shown here on the bottom)? What does the fox say? And how about the gorilla, gecko, owl, and eagle too?
Animals & Nature, page 2
The fire emoji lives in my Recents section pretty much all the time, but I think I prefer the old more graphical version to this new, weirdly realistic one. C’mon we aren’t having an actual marshmallow roast on my iPhone screen, are we? The rainbow is a nice addition, even if it looks like it was assembled from colorful tubes.
Food & Drink
In iOS 10, all the food emoji fit on one page. NOw they'll carry over slightly onto a second (next slide), thanks to delicious additions like bacon, avocado, carrot, cucumber, peanuts, salad, and a beautiful glass of whiskey, neat.
Food, page 2
See, the 10.2 set of emoji pushes just a few food emoji onto another page. The more realistic champagne bottle is making me thirsty!
The Activity section fits onto one page (in landscape mode on an iPad, anyway) in both 10.0 (top) and 10.2 (bottom). You might notice a radically new heaphone design—so long, old Apple earbuds! Notable addtions include wrestlers, a boxing glove, and jugglers.
Travel & Places, page 1
The big trend in travel emoji is breaking them out of the little square boxes they used to live in. It's a big help for emoji like the Statue of Liberty, the roller coaster, and the mountains. Welcome, Vespa emoji, which is so cute I wish it came in a couple other colors.
Travel & Places, page 2
It doesn't look like the Travel emoji section grew by much, but in fact, a few were just moved. The rainbow emoji you see in the top (iOS 10), for example, is now outside of its box and relocated to the nature section.
Objects, page 1
The Objects pages are completely redrawn. You've already seen the new squirt gun emoji, which was changed in iOS 10, but now you can meet the redesigned bomb, movie camera, and alarm clock.
Objects, page 2
New objects seen here include a glass of water being poured and a shopping cart. But the new designs are so striking them seem brand-new. Check out the three documents right in the middle, for example.
Objects, page 3
It looks like the Objects section in iOS 10.2 (bottom) actually has fewer emoji, but it’s only because the row of flags seen at the top-left have been moved to the Flags section instead—which makes more sense anyway.
Symbols, page 1
The black heart is going to come in very handy, I just know it. I also like how the red symbols look bigger in iOS 10.2.
Symbols, page 2
Nobody uses emoji symbols to greater effect than Carrie Fisher on her sublime Twitter account, and I hope the slight reordering here doesn’t throw off her game.
Symbols, page 3
Bigger shapes! Bolder arrows! The set of eighth notes that was blue for some reason in iOS 10 is finally black in iOS 10.2!
Symbols, page 4
The clocks at the end of the Symbols section have a more realistic look to them, which doesn't make a lot of sense to me since these are icons to tell hours and half-hours, more than real images of clocks.
Flags, page 1
See, there are the flags moved from the Objects section, front and center in the Flags section in iOS 10.2.
Flags, page 2
No new countries were added, but everything shifted back a few places.
Flags, page 3
The flag emoji are still in alphabetical order by country name, which makes them easier to find. I wouldn't mind some way to look more closely at them while scrolling through—maybe we could tap and hold two fingers for a magnifying loupe or something?
Flags, page 4
The last flags highlighted here don't fit on the previous page, but here they are, including the United Kingdom and the United States.
What’s your favorite emoji? Let us know in the comments. And look for these emoji on your iPhone and iPad when iOS 10.2 launches to the public.
Today's Best Tech Deals
Picked by Macworld's Editors