The 2021 Unicode Delay and coloured shape sequences for Emoji 13.1

Emojipedia reports

The Unicode Consortium is delaying Unicode 14.0 by six months due to COVID-19.  This means that emojis that would have arrived on phones in 2021 will instead roll out in 2022.


Alternatively, Unicode has suggested a Emoji 13.1 release which could fill the gap in 2021. This wouldn’t be able to include new Unicode characters (which need a full Unicode release), but could include sequences.

What is a sequence?  A sequence is a way of creating new emojis by combining existing ones (combining existing code points), rather than creating a new code point.

For example, Polar Bear, planned for 2020, is not a new code point, it is

a ZWJ sequence combining 🐻 Bear, Zero Width Joiner and Snowflake


An obvious use for sequences would be to fix the weird codepoint allocation that has gone to making coloured hearts, circles and squares, and some coloured “diamonds”, but no other coloured shapes.

  • heart: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, white, brown
  • circle: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, white, brown
  • square: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, white, brown
  • diamond: small orange, small blue, large orange, large blue (the diamond is really more of a rotated square)

That’s 27 codepoints just to make colours for three different shapes, and another four codepoints to make colours and sizes for another shape.  (I don’t know why there are orange and blue diamonds; I assume they have some cultural meaning.)

It actually is even more complicated than that, because there are multiple codepoints for black and white squares, and it’s not clear whether black and white mean, well, black and white, or more likely mean filled and unfilled, which was the earlier meaning for black and white in pre-emoji Unicode.

  • black small square, black medium-small square, black medium square, black large square
  • white small square, white medium-small square, white medium square, white large square

There are also separate playing card shapes:

So a very simple proposal would be to make more colours by using sequences.  Just pick one of the coloured shapes to use as an additional indicator of colour.  Probably the circles, because the squares are complicated.

e.g. make a small yellow diamond with small orange diamond + zero width joiner + yellow circle

What I would really like them to do is make an actual diamond-shaped black diamond, with diamond suit + zero-width joiner + black circle

This would create the black diamond I recommend as the liquorice emoji.