A picture shows emoji characters also known as emoticons on the screens of two mobile phones in Paris on August 6, 2015
A picture shows emoji characters also known as emoticons on the screens of two mobile phones in Paris on August 6, 2015

iPhones can now send middle finger emoji after iOS 9.1 beta update that also brings burrito and cheese block

The full update will be rolling out to users in the coming weeks — but an early version of it can be downloaded now

Andrew Griffin
Friday 11 September 2015 16:47

Apple has finally added support for the world’s most controversial emoji — the middle finger.

The group that picks emoji said some time ago that it would be adding the new hand shape. But many companies have opted to leave it out of their keyboards for fear of it being used to be rude.

Apple has finally added the new character with iOS 9.1. The update isn’t set to be released to the public until November, but iPhone and iPad owners can sign up to Apple’s beta programme to get hold of it early.

The many shades of middle finger, as seen on iOS 9.1

The middle finger has proved a controversial emoji, with some companies just opting not to give people the chance to use it. Microsoft went first, announcing in May that it would be adding the character in Windows 10 — and that, as Apple did, it would be provided in a range of different skin tones. Google has also added support for it in Android.

Apple is the biggest high-profile hold out. It has traditionally avoided more risqué content — including refusing to allow magazines that include explicit pictures into the app store, for instance.

iOS 9.1 also brings support for the new set of emoji — including taco and burrito, turkey and block of cheese. There are also some non-food related characters, including a unicorn and a robot.

Unicode, which lays out the standard for emoji characters, announced the new list in June. But before anyone can use them, operating system makers like Apple and Google must add them to their keyboards.

Their next update will come in mid-2016. But the candidates have already been shortlisted: including face with cowboy hat, pregnant woman, croissant, avocado and fox face.

The middle finger is just one of a number of controversies that emoji has become embroiled in as it has become one of the most popular ways of talking. That has included complaints about their racial diversity — and fixes that have improved it — and their being used as a way of sharing explicit pictures on Instagram.

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