SAN FRANCISCO - Get your texting thumbs ready: more than a hundred new emoji were announced Wednesday, and they'll be making their way to your smartphone in the coming months.
In all, 157 new characters were added to the growing emoji keyboard by the Unicode Consortium, the governing body that sets standards for characters of all languages across every major computer platform. Some would argue that emoji are the fastest growing "language" of all.
"We're developing this new language at an incredibly rapid pace, when you compare it to the evolution of natural languages," said Unicode Consortium vice president Gregory Welch.
Anyone can propose new emoji, and Welch said members of the consortium consider those proposals based on their merit.
"The process for nomination is democratic, it's open," he said.
Each new character has a story -- for instance, the newly-added mosquito.
"It was actually virologists who were saying, 'This is gonna help us communicate worldwide the dangers associated with mosquitoes,'" Welch said.
Of course, many emoji take on a life of their own once released, and develop new popular meanings.
Asked what he would use a mosquito emoji for, one man said: "For whatever sucks, I guess."
Next to the baseball, there's now a softball, and next to the crab, a lobster -- which can mean more than seafood.
"Lobster's a good way of calling your significant other," one woman told us. "Like, 'You're my lobster,'" she said, evoking a scene from the 1990s sitcom "Friends."
For some, the biggest headline from the new batch of characters will be the success of an online petition for redheaded emoji.
"It was huge, I think it was millions of people," said Adrienne Vendetti, co-founder of HowToBeARedhead.com.
Vendetti said it's more serious than it sounds, since redheaded kids can be bullied, and often take years to love their red hair.
"You go on your phone to have something look like you and it's not there, you're like -- does the rest of the world love me too?" she said.
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Curly hair and bald heads will also be on the growing emoji keyboard that will also let users mix and match hair and skin colors.
"Thosuands of 'keys' as it were, so the auto-suggestion is I think really helping," Welch said.
In fact, that auto-suggestion is exactly what inspired one of the new emoji -- one that's not about faces, but about feet.
"I typed the word 'shoe,' and I was just kind of caught off guard by the fact that it was a red stiletto," said Florie Hutchinson, a publicist from Palo Alto.
She got to work, educating herself about the process of creating new emoji, and crafted a proposal for women's shoes without heels -- like the ballet flats she wears every day.
On a Skype call, we broke the news to Hutchinson that her flats made the cut, and will be included in the next emoji update.
"Really? that's awesome!!!" she exclaimed.
Welch says the nature of the democratic process is that emoji will become more inclusive with each passing year.
"So that those images that you use reflect who 'you' are," he said.
Hutchinson said she's happy to be part of the history, "of what I believe is the most important language of mass communication happening at the moment."
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