Ex-NASA Worker Launches App With Diverse Selection of Emojis

July 24, 2014  |  


Now we can sit around and wait ’til Apple fulfills our wishes for a more diverse selection of emojis, or we can do it ourselves. And Katrina Parrott, a former NASA program manager, chose the latter. According to MTV Act, Parrott has launched a new “diverse-filled” app called iDiversicons.

Way back in March, in response to protests for more emojis of color, Apple said, “There needs to be more diversity in the emoji character set, and have been working closely with the Unicode Consortium in an effort to update the standard.”

It’s now July. Where the black people at?

Even when Unicode (the company that regulates the presentation of text across Apple, Google, and Microsoft platforms) updated its software last month to add 250 more emojis, we were left with “shopping bags, a bed, a camera with flash, and the highly sought after ‘back of envelope,'” MadameNoire wrote, and no faces of color.

Parrott, recognizing a high demand for an ethnicity update, launched iDiversicons — it’s an app that not only offers emojis of color, but also same-sex and interracial couple emojis

“One thing we wanted was an app that represented not just African Americans,we wanted one that represented the world,” Parrot told The Houston Chronicle. “We wanted all people to be able to find an emoji that looked like them.”

Gender stereotypes are also challenged in this app as women are depicted as construction workers and soldiers while men are portrayed as artists and nurses.

IDiversicons got its start when Parrott was laid off from NASA last year. With a lot of time of her hands, and a bit of inspiration after her daughter wondered why there weren’t any emojis that looked like her, Parrott got to work as an app developer.  iDiversicons landed in the App Store in October of 2013.

This past May, Parrott successfully raised $2,000 to improve the app and create a version that’s compatible with Android devices for the Google Play store.

There is one problem with iDiversicons, though: “[Y]ou have to open the app, find the emoji you want, highlight and copy it, and then go back into your text message draft and paste it in,” Bustle says. But hey, the few extra seconds of labor just might be worth it?

Parrot has pitched iDiversicons to Unicode in May and will hear their decision in August.

Parrott has also reached out to Apple, but has not received a response.

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