Twitter Launches Pro-Democracy Emoji for ‘Milk Tea Alliance’ in Asia

 Smoke rises from tires set alight by anti-coup protesters on April 03, 2021 in Yangon, Myanmar.

Smoke rises from tires set alight by anti-coup protesters on April 03, 2021 in Yangon, Myanmar.
Photo: Getty Images (Getty Images)

Twitter launched a new emoji early Thursday that will appear anytime a user tweets the hashtag #MilkTeaAlliance. The so-called Milk Tea Alliance refers to the pro-democracy movement in Asia that has been organized, at least in part, through actions online.

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“To celebrate the first anniversary of the #MilkTeaAlliance we designed an emoji featuring 3 different types of milk tea colors from regions where the Alliance first formed online,” the social media company tweeted from its account dedicated to public policy.

The Milk Tea Alliance includes Hong Kong, where activists are fighting for the preservation of some autonomy from the Chinese Communist Party; Myanmar, where a military coup in February ousted the democratically elected government; Taiwan, a country whose sovereignty comes under constant threat from Beijing; and Thailand, where the monarchy is further restricting civil rights.

“We have seen more than 11 million Tweets featuring the #MilkTeaAlliance hashtag over the past year. Conversations peaked when it first appeared in April 2020, and again in February 2021 when the coup took place in Myanmar,” Twitter continued.

Security forces in Myanmar have killed over 600 civilians since the military coup earlier this year, including 11 people on Wednesday alone, according to the latest reports. At least 40 children have been killed by the junta, based on reporting by the New York Times, with one child as young as 10 slain by the brutal regime.

In its announcement, Twitter also pointed to other emojis developed to support social change, including emojis for the hashtags #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter. Halfway through its tweet thread about the new emoji, Twitter more explicitly called for internet access to be maintained in places experiencing civil unrest and brutal government crackdowns.

“During times of civil unrests or violent crackdowns, it is more important than ever for the public to have access to the #OpenInternet for real-time updates, credible information, and essential services. #KeepitOn,” Twitter tweeted.

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One of the first things the military regime did after taking control of Myanmar in February was shut off Facebook in the country. And social media access has been highly disrupted ever since.

“Twitter recognizes that the #OpenInternet is increasingly under threat around the world. We strongly believe that having access to the free and #OpenInternet is an essential right and remain a staunch defender and advocate of free expression and condemn #InternetShutdowns,” Twitter continued.

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Here Are All the New Emoji Coming to Your iPhone in iOS 14.5

Can relate tbh

Can relate tbh
Image: Apple/Gizmodo

New emoji are coming to your iPhone soon, and while you’ll have to wait for iOS 14.5 to drop to start using them, we just got a sneak peek in the latest iOS developer beta.

The iOS 14.5 beta 2 rolling out beginning today to developers introduces a handful of new emoji while improving the designs of others. New to the mix are the mending heart, heart on fire, face exhaling, face in the clouds, and face with spiral eyes—an emoji that I feel a deep spiritual connection with after months of limited human interaction. The update will also include a diverse set of couples emoji, a woman with beard emoji, and a person with beard emoji.

Most of these are fairly straightforward, though I’ve got questions about Apple’s particular take on the face in clouds emoji—which looks markedly different from Unicode’s read on an expression of absentmindedness. Behold, Apple’s take:

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I mean, I invite you all to share your thoughts in the comments. All I’m saying is that it appears we got not just one, but two weed-related emoji with this update.

Beyond the new emoji, iOS 14.5 will polish some older emoji, most noticeably replacing the headphone emoji—which for several updates remained a basic black—to look more like its recently debuted AirPods Max. This new emoji has oversized aluminum earcups, a mesh headband, and even a slight sheen, just as the Max headphones do.

The syringe emoji has also been redesigned. Before, the syringe contained red liquid, or blood, because the emoji represented blood donations as well as vaccinations. But the new emoji looks a lot less, well, true to life. The syringe now contains a pale blue liquid and the needle isn’t as prominent. And frankly, it’s probably not a terrible idea to soften the emoji representation of vaccines at a time when it’s critical that as many people as possible be willing to get them.

Lastly, Apple added helmets to its person climbing, woman climbing, and man climbing emoji. Apple wasn’t the only platform to exclude helmets from these emoji, but this certainly feels like an improvement. Safety first, you know?

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Google Is Supercharging Emoji Remixing with Emoji Kitchen in Gboard

Gif: Google

Google is pushing out a handful of last-minute Android updates before the end of the year, including a huge update to its delightful Emoji Kitchen feature in Gboard.

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Earlier this year, Google released Emoji Kitchen as part of Gboard, allowing people to essentially remix or create new emoji “recipes” by combining a range of existing emoticons. So if you wanted to create a ghost with a cowboy hat, you could simply combine the standard cowboy hat emoji with the ghost emoji, and voila: Now you have a spooky undead cowboy emoji.

Illustration for article titled Google Is Supercharging Emoji Remixing with Emoji Kitchen in Gboard

Image: Google

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With Emoji Kitchen’s newest update,which will begin rolling out this week, Google is expanding the range of unique combinations from hundreds to more than 14,000, giving you the freedom to potentially create the perfect emoji for every situation.

Google’s other Android updates include upgrades to Google Maps, Android Auto, Nearby Share, Google Play Books, and Accessibility. In Google Maps, there will be a new Go Tab that will provide directions to your most frequently visited places; all you have to do is tap on a location from within the tab.

Here’s a demo of the new Go Tab inside Google Maps.
Gif: Google

For any places you have pinned, the Go Tab will also provide info about those locations including a shortcut to directions, traffic info, and estimated arrival time. Google Maps will even let you pin various routes for different modes of transportation, so regardless if you’re driving or taking public transit, you can have your route and navigation planned out ahead of time. While there isn’t a specific timetable for when the Go Tab will be available in Google Maps on your device, Google says it will become available on both Android and iOS devices in the coming weeks.

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Meanwhile, for those who rely more on Android Auto, Google is expanding support to 36 additional countries, including Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Indonesia, and Namibia.

Illustration for article titled Google Is Supercharging Emoji Remixing with Emoji Kitchen in Gboard

Image: Google

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For Nearby Share, which Google launched earlier this year as a replacement for Android Beam and as an alternative to Apple’s AirDrop sharing system, you’ll now be able to share full apps from the Google Play store with others, even if you’re not connected to mobile data or wifi. All you have to do is go into the My apps & Games tabs in the Google Play app and then look for the Share Apps option. Like the Go Tab in Google Maps, sharing apps with Nearby Share is expected to roll out over the coming weeks.

As for books, by partnering with a number of publishers in the U.S. and U.K., Google Play is getting the ability to create auto-generated narrators, turning standard ebooks into audiobooks automatically. However, it’s currently unclear which ebooks will get this functionality, and right now, the tool to create auto-narrated audiobooks is still in beta before the feature rolls out to all publishers sometime in early 2021.

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Gif: Google

Finally, to help improve accessibility of Android phones, Google is expanding support of its Voice Access app to older version of Android. Previously available only on Android 11 devices, Voice Access allows people with paralysis, injuries or limited motor function to use and control their Android devices using their voice. Voice Access allows users to voice commands to interact with their phone. It’s also capable of reading UI buttons and more to help facilitate navigating, and with this latest update, Voice Access will now be available (initially as an open beta app) on any Android device running Android 6 (Marshmallow) and above.

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Dozens of New Emoji Roll Out With iOS 14.2 Today

Illustration for article titled Dozens of New Emoji Roll Out With iOS 14.2 Today

Photo: Emojipedia

The mustachioed disguise emoji you’ve been yearning for has finally arrived.

New emoji announced just after the start of hell year 2020 have finally arrived on iPhones with iOS 14.2, delivering 117 new emoji variations. In addition to adding characters that expand on representation, including additional skin tones and gender variations for existing emoji, the update also introduces new animals (dodo! seal!), foods (bubble tea! tamale!), whimsical emoji (magic wand! black cat!), and more.

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Illustration for article titled Dozens of New Emoji Roll Out With iOS 14.2 Today

Image: Apple/Emojipedia

A notable addition to Apple’s emoji library includes the updated face with medical mask emoji. In pre-pandemic times, this emoji face appeared fairly neutral. Now, the face will appear as though it’s smiling, a change that first appeared in the beta version iOS 14.2 last month (roughly 400 years ago now). This week’s update also introduces the pinched fingers emoji, a headstone emoji, and a plunger, which feels especially appropriate for all the shit we’re dealing with this week.

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I was also a little disappointed to see that Apple ultimately went with a blank placard emoji over a text-ambiguous version that was particularly controversial among the staff here at Gizmodo. No matter, though. Literally every other platform went with some variation of scrawled script that you can spend the next few hours deciphering amongst yourselves if you so choose.

Any distraction is welcome at this point.

Apple’s New Emoji Wants You to Know That You Don’t Have to Be Miserable When Wearing a Face Mask

Doesn’t this face look familiar?

Doesn’t this face look familiar?
Photo: Emojipedia

At this point in the coronavirus pandemic, we all know that face masks—which public health officials agree are one of our most powerful weapons against the virus—can unfortunately be controversial. Grown adults in the U.S. have literally thrown childish fits over having to wear them. In recent days, Apple has quietly stepped into the debate to apparently try to calm the situation with a curious solution: an emoji.

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As spotted by Emojipedia, Apple has updated its face mask wearing emoji, known as “Face with Medical Mask,” with the release of its iOS 14.2 beta 2 this week. Instead of being a plain yellow with sad eyes that looks sick, the face mask wearing emoji in the new beta appears to be… happy. In fact, one could say that it’s sporting a familiar smile.

You don’t have to be miserable when you put on your face mask.
Gif: Emojipedia

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That’s because it is, according to an Emojipedia analysis. It is actually one of the emojis we already have at our disposal, the “Smiling Face” emoji. Apple just put a mask on it.

Although it is a subtle change and not yet final—this is still a beta version of iOS 14.2, after all—the new mask wearing emoji sends a powerful message. Wearing a mask does not have to be a chore, mean that you’re sick or signify unhappiness with the current state of the world. It can mean something totally different.

Wearing a mask can mean that you’re doing your part to protect your loved ones and your community during this global pandemic. It can also show that you’re still enjoying life’s small moments when you can. Because even though the world is being terrorized by a horrible virus, we must go on.

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I’m not saying people are going to get all philosophical like me when they see the new mask wearing emoji, but it’s important to note that changes in perception often start with small steps.

According to Emojipedia, Apple’s original mask wearing emoji has remained the same for the past 12 years. Apple has only made minor changes to the emoji over the years to increase its resolution. It’s not the only company that has depicted the mask wearing emoji as sad or sick. Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook also take a similar approach.

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Since the emoji has only changed in iOS 14.2 beta 2, it will still appear sad when sent to users that do not have the beta or users on other platforms. Do the world a favor and don’t wait for Apple’s final decision to smile when you put your mask on. Wearing a mask truly does make a difference right now, and you should feel good about it.

[Emojipedia]

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