News

Apple's Black Emojis Are Coming (But They're Not The First)

Apple's diversified emoticons are coming, but Mauritius-based app company Oju Africa was first to introduce black emojis.


Screenshot of Oju Emoticon App v1.0 via Oju Africa

Apple's black emojis are on their way. As 9to5mac reports, this morning Apple released a new beta version of iOS 8.3 for testers that includes a more racially diverse character set, which allows users to pick from a palette of skin tones on several different emojis. Users will soon have the ability to click and hold on emoji characters (the ones intended to be people) and select from an option of six skin tones-- which we presume are along the Fitzpatrick Classification Scale. According to The Next Web, there's still no release date for the new emoji features, but Apple is reportedly planning a public beta program to kick off in mid-March. Regardless of when they do launch, though, Apple still won't be the first company to introduce black emojis.

Last April, Mauritius-based app company Oju Africa launched a range of 65 "Afro Emoticons." At the time of their release, Oju (Yoruba for "face") touted their afrocentric emojis as the first ethnically diverse emoticons. "It's very important for us, as a small African company, to make it known to the world that we were the first to do it," the company's Ugandan-born chief executive Alpesh Patel told CNN.

Patel, whose company began developing the icons in late 2012, says they moved up the release date for their Emoticons in response to a public demand for Apple to diversify their emojis — a call that began with a tweet from Miley Cyrus ("RT if you think there needs to be an #emojiethnicityupdate," Cyrus wrote on December 18, 2012). On March 25, 2014, Apple's Katie Cotton (VP of worldwide corporate communications) told MTV the company is working to diversify their emoji character set. As discussions surrounding an "#EmojiEthnicityUpdate" began to spread online, Oju announced they'd already been working to develop black emojis. According to Patel in an interview with CNN, "The reason we launched it [the Afro Emoticons ahead of schedule] is because of this petition from Miley Cyrus and MTV — petition to Apple CEO complaining about the lack of racially diverse emoticons and Apple said 'yes, we're going to look into it.' But within a couple of hours of seeing that, we put our press release out and already claimed ownership — that we have actually developed this already." The first version of the Oju emoticon app has been available for download via Google Play since April (almost a year ahead of Apple's forthcoming black emojis).

Leaked photo of Apple's new emoji skin tone feature via The Next Web

Interview

Sarkodie Is Not Feeling Any Pressure

The elite Ghanaian rapper affirms his king status with this seventh studio album, No Pressure.

Sarkodie is one of the most successful African rappers of all time. With over ten years of industry presence under his belt, there's no question about his prowess or skin in the game. Not only is he a pioneer of African hip-hop, he's also the most decorated African rapper, having received over 100 awards from close to 200 nominations over the span of his career.

What else does Sarkodie have to prove? For someone who has reached and stayed at the pinnacle of hip-hop for more than a decade, he's done it all. But despite that, he's still embracing new growth. One can tell just by listening to his latest album, No Pressure, Sarkodie's seventh studio album, and the follow-up to 2019's Black Love which brought us some of the Ghanaian star's best music so far. King Sark may be as big as it gets, but the scope of his music is still evolving.

Sonically, No Pressure is predominantly hip-hop, with the first ten tracks offering different blends of rap topped off with a handful of afrobeats and, finally, being crowned at the end with a gospel hip-hop cut featuring Ghanaian singer MOG. As far as the features go, Sark is known for collaborating mostly with his African peers but this time around he branches out further to feature a number of guests from around the world. Wale, Vic Mensa, and Giggs, the crème de la crème of rap in America and the UK respectively all make appearances, as well as Nigeria's Oxlade, South Africa's Cassper Nyovest, and his fellow Ghanaian artists Darkovibes and Kwesi Arthur.

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