A brown mushroom, a slice of lime, and a fiery phoenix — no, that’s not the start of a rubbish joke but a selection of the 118 new emoji added to the Unicode standard.
And Ubuntu users can see and use these new emoji well before Apple users, as well!
Rolling out to Ubuntu 22.04 LTS and 23.10 this week is an update to the Noto Color Emoji font that’s includes full support for all of the new emoji in Unicode 15.1.
- Brown Mushroom
- Broken link/chain
- Head shaking vertically
- Head shaking horizontally
In addition, the latest release includes over 100 new directional glyphs for people running, praying, kneeling, using a wheelchair, and so on (which face left by default, so the new ones face right).
And there are 4 new family emoji in silhouette, with existing family group emoji adjusting to follow the new simplified design.
You can see all the changes in this update via your browser on Emojipedia.org.
More emoji, but less at the same time
The new emoji included in Unicode 15.1 are zero-width joiner (ZWJ) sequences. These allow pairs of pre-existing emoji to combine to create a new one when the invisible ZWJ character (commonly referred to as a zwidge) is placed between them.
For example, the new Phoenix emoji is formed by combining the standard bird 🐦 and fire 🔥 emoji with a ZWJ; to make the runner 🏃 emoji face right you add the right direction ➡️ emoji, again with a ZWJ in-between, and so on.
Manually entering ZWJ sequences is a little tedious as it requires you to know the combination in advance and find the invisible ZWJ character (which most emoji picker tools don’t show).
So about a week from now a small update to the GNOME Characters app will arrive in Ubuntu 23.10. This lets users see the new emoji as individual emoji in the Characters app (and when searching via GNOME Shell), the same as with other commonly used ZWG sequences:
Alas, the version of Characters included in Ubuntu 22.04 won’t be updated as it uses “a different mechanism to display emoji and does not support any emoji from recent years”. To show them, it’d require a substantial update to GTK, one which would affect other flavours.
Annoying, but you will be able to see the new emoji in other apps at least (and when did you last need a brown mushroom anyway? 🤭).
So yeah: emoji incoming. Look out for those updates in the next week or so (though if you have the proposed repo enabled you may already have them installed). Once they’re installed, you’ll see the following emoji differently…