A new and more inclusive design for the emoji showing couples holding hands (images courtesy of Apple)

Emojis are no laughing matter. Since their integration into mobile phone operating systems in the 2010s, emojis have become an indispensable part of modern-day communication, increasingly overriding text and changing language. A new Adobe study released on the event of World Emoji Day celebrated yearly on July 17, sheds new light on the indelible influence of the emoji phenomenon on culture, economy, and human interaction. And in keeping with the tradition of previous years, Apple has released a new batch of emojis to celebrate the annual emoji holiday.

In its first-ever “Emoji Trend Report,” the multinational software company Adobe surveyed 1,000 emoji users in the United States to learn about their emojis usage and the role that these digital characters play in their lives and relationships.

The majority of respondents (65%) said they are more comfortable expressing their emotions through emojis than a phone call. That number rises to 83% among Gen Z users, who represent the largest segment of media audience, according to the 2017 Nielsen Total Audience Report. Nearly all emoji users reported using emojis to lighten the mood of a conversation (93%) and display empathy to their interlocutors (91%). A great number of them (81%) believe that people who use emojis are friendlier and more approachable.

To demonstrate just how ubiquitous emojis have become, 64% said they’re willing to make a purchase with an emoji, most likely purchasing meals (19%), movie tickets (15%) and clothing (13%). As of now, Domino’s Pizza leads the trend as it allows customers to order a pizza by texting a mere ? emoji. To further prove Domino’s understanding of the zeitgeist, nearly half (44%) of emoji users said they are more likely to purchase products advertised using emojis. Over half (58%) of them said they are also more likely to open an email from a brand that uses an emoji in the subject line.

What are people’s favorite emojis?

The most popular emojis (via Adobe World Emoji Day survey)

According to the survey, people’s top three favorite emojis are the “face with tears of joy” (counted as one of the variations of LOL) emoji (1st Place), the classic heart shape ❤️ (2nd Place), and “face blowing a kiss? (3rd Place). “Love, happiness, and sadness are the top three emotions users express through emojis,” the report says.

When asked about the benefits of emojis, users cited the ability to communicate across language barriers (94%) and the ability to instantly communicate thoughts and ideas (90%). With all the diversification of skin tones and cultural backgrounds in emojis, 73% still wish they had more emoji customization options to better reflect their personal appearance and identity.

Emoji also have a positive impact on the work environment, according to the report. Among the emoji users surveyed, 61% reported exchanging emojis at work. The majority of users believe that emojis positively impact likability (78%) and credibility (63%), and render positive news more sincere (74%).

More inclusive and diverse emojis for 2019

Apple pays more attention to people in need of accessibility in a new set of emojis (images courtesy of Apple)

As in previous World Emoji Days, the tech giant Apple released a preview of a new line of emojis scheduled to go live later in the year. In a move toward greater representation of all groups in society, the company’s new emojis feature people using wheelchairs, canes, hearing aids, and other accessibility gear.

Up until now, emojis including more than one person were not permitted a change of skin tone on Apple’s operating system (iOS). That has previously restricted emojis representing families (?‍?‍?‍??‍?‍??‍?‍??‍?‍?‍?), couples (??‍❤️‍??‍❤️‍?), and a handshake (?) to yellow.

Falafel and waffle: Apple’s new food emojis (images courtesy of Apple)

New members of Apple’s emoji animal world (images courtesy of Apple)

This year’s emojis, however, will represent greater color and gender diversity. This change will manifest itself in a new design for the emoji showing couples holding hands, which will take into consideration non-binary couples in a variety of skin tones. These emojis will only be available later in the year.

In the clothing department, Apple will introduce a sari, a safety vest, a one-piece swimsuit, and a banjo, among others. Falafel, waffle, garlic, and ice cube are some of the new additions to the food emojis. And in animals, a flamingo, a guide dog, a skunk, an orangutan, and a sloth will join the list.

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...