As millions get vaccinated, Apple is making a design change to its syringe emoji, swapping an image with drops of blood at the end of the emoji’s needle for one that looks more like a vaccine.
The redesigned emoji is available only to members of the company’s beta program but will be publicly available with iOS 14.5. While new emojis are more difficult to approve, changing an emoji’s design can enact a similar result on a faster timeline, according to Keith Broni, the deputy emoji officer at Emojipedia, a service that archives the design and usage trends of emojis.
The syringe emoji dates to 1999 and had been used mainly to illustrate blood donations in Japan. The emoji was often used in discussions around blood donations and even tattooing, Mr. Broni said.
“When you provide someone with a communication tool, they will use it as they see fit,” Mr. Broni said. “We’ve seen many different emojis take on many different connotations.”
Mr. Broni said he had started to notice a spike in the usage of the emoji late last year, and saw that the conversations people were having on Twitter while using it had pivoted to talk about coronavirus vaccines.
Mr. Broni said he expected the change from Apple to be a permanent one, and that other technology companies would be likely to follow suit. He said the emoji that resembles a vaccine injection could be used more readily and that removing the blood would make the emoji more flexible and less intimidating.