Former NASA Employee Releases New Emoji App to Fill Diversity Gap

IDiversicons offers over 900 emoticons to those users demanding a wider represention from their current emoticon app.

Posted: 07/25/2014 02:46 PM EDT
Former NASA Employee Releases New Emoji App to Fill Diversity Gap

If you have been wondering when Apple will release a more racially diverse set of emoticons, you are not alone.

Katrina Parrott of the Houston area wondered the same thing before finally launching iDiversicons, a mobile application that provides users with over 900 emoticons available in the Apple store and Google Play. Having been laid off from her program manager position at NASA last year, the mother of two purchased Apple’s Developer Program, hired an illustrator and brought the app to life during her newfound freetime.

“We wanted all people to be able to find an emoticon that looked like them,” Parrott told the Houston Chronicle, who has no prior coding experience. "One thing we wanted was an app that represented not just African Americans, we wanted one that represented the world.”

Included in the wide range of iDiversicons’s emoticons are same-sex and interracial couples, varying dog breeds and facial expressions and even a hot dog, by request.

"We even responded to a Wall Street petition for a hot dog emoji," Parrott said, adding, "If you have something you want as an emoji, just let us know.”

The colorful icons can be used in texts, emails, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Users must go to the app and copy the icons each time they want to use them, but Parrott is currently working on getting iDiversicons integrated as a keyboard option.

In May, Apple released a statement to MTV, agreeing with the demand for a wider representation.

"Our emoji characters are based on the Unicode standard, which is necessary for them to be displayed properly across many platforms,” said Katie Cotton, vice president of worldwide corporate communications. "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.”

Oju Africa, another emoticon app targeting African-American users, beat Apple to the punch when it launched this past April.

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(Photo: courtesy iDiversicons)

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