The Unicode Consortium has announced version 7.0 of the Unicode Standard, which adds 2,834 new characters to the existing 110,000 characters. For the uninitiated, Unicode is a standard for consistent encoding, representation, and handling of text for different languages and scripts. By agreeing on a unique number for every character regardless of platform, program, and language, it solves the problem of encoding systems conflicting with one another.
According to the Unicode Blog:
This latest version adds the new currency symbols for the Russian ruble and Azerbaijani manat, approximately 250 emoji (pictographic symbols), many other symbols, and 23 new lesser-used and historic scripts, as well as character additions to many existing scripts. These additions extend support for written languages of North America, China, India, other Asian countries, and Africa.
In addition, Unicode 7.0 adds a new range of Emoji, you know, those little emoticons or graphics that you use on your computers and smartphones, especially in messaging apps. Emojipedia has a list of what these new 250 Emoji characters are (images are not available yet though), and it’s hard not to have a good laugh at names like ‘Reversed Hand With Middle Finger Extended’ (Emoji Blog has a mockup here), ‘Raised Hand With Part Between Middle And Ring Fingers’, and ‘Wind Blowing Face’. That said, don’t expect these new Emoji characters to magically appear on your devices and apps; platform makers like Apple and Google have to get onboard Unicode 7.0 first. With iOS 8 and Google’s next Android OS expected in a few months’ time, the wait shouldn’t be too long.
Update: You can see the Unicode Consortium's impressions of the new Emoji characters in this Miscellaneous Symbols and Pictographs PDF.
Oh, on a somewhat related note, you do know that our editor Vijay has his own emoticon in the HardwareZone forums, right?