Apple creates 'diverse' emoji including black Santa Claus
Apple has unveiled a new range of emoji characters following criticism about the lack of diversity, including a black Santa Claus.
The new characters include a Santa Claus with six different skin tones, as well as policeman and flags from 32 countries.
The new emojis are being trialled on iOS X 10.10.3 and iOS 8.3 beta 2. Users will be able to choose the skin tone of each emoji by tapping and holding each icon.
The new characters have been unveiled after Apple teamed up with Unicode to develop the new characters. However, the emoji have already been criticised on social media, particularly the decision to include a yellow tone.
Emoji have emerged as a trend from Japan, where the term literally means "picture + letter".
The characters have become standardised and are tightly controlled by the Unicode Consortium. However, Unicode agreed to broaden the diversity of characters amid growing pressure. The skin tones are understood to have been modelled on the Fitzpatrick scale, a recognised standard used by dermatologists.
Before the update there were only three characters which appeared to represent non-western people. These were a man wearing a cossack hat, a man wearing a turban, and a man wearing a traditional Chinese skull cap with noticeably smaller and more slanted eyes.
The new range of characters will become available to iPhone users when they download the latest iOS software update.
Apple has been developing the emoji for at least a year. Last March, it said: "There needs to be more diversity in the emoji character set, and we have been working closely with the Unicode Consortium in an effort to update the standard."