Apple DROPS rifle emoji from Olympics iPhone keyboard update

Unicode / Getty Images
Rifle emoji

The rifle will no longer be included in the latest emoji keyboard update

The Unicode Consortium, the organisation that decides which symbols are added and which aren’t, is set to release a new batch of Olympic-themed emojis to support the Rio Olympic Games. Apple has reportedly blocked the decision to add the rifle emoji to its latest keyboard update, which is due out on June 21.

However after pressure from the tech-giant Apple and other tech companies including Facebook and Microsoft, they’ve decided not to include the rifle emoji – despite shooting being an Olympic sport.

While no comment has been made as to why they have removed it, the recent mass shootings in the USA, as well as the threatening connotations of the symbol, are likely the reasons behind the decision.

Rifle emoji
Rifle emoji

Unicode President Mark Davis confirmed the news, telling Buzzfeed : “The committee decided not to make them as Emoji, but to add them as characters.”

This means that that the rifle will feature on the official Unicode character database, but it will not be available as an emoji that can be easily sent in text messages.

When it was first announced that the rifle was being added, a British gun-control campaign group told the BBC that: “It would be familiarising and popularising the image of a weapon which is not a good idea.”

Despite the rifle being struck off, users can still use the handgun, knife and bomb emoji.

Getty Images
A picture shows emoji characters also known as emoticons on the screens of two mobile phones
72 new emojis will be added in the update later this month including new foods and hand gestures

Emoji was named as the world’s fastest growing language in May last year and scrutiny around which characters make the keyboard and which don’t, has increased enormously.

Last year the middle finger emoji caused a wave of controversy when it was released, with people complaining it was unnecessarily rude.

Adding new emojis is by no means a straight-forward process. All symbols are selected by the Unicode Consortium, which is made up of 12 voting members.

Apple is one if Unicode’s largest voting member, with other tech-giants including Google, Facebook and Microsoft.

The body meets every quarterly in California to propose and select new emojis based on topical requests.


Over 72 new emojis will be added when the 9.0 update is released. Other emojis that have made the Olympic-inspired list includes “gymnastics”, “handball”, “water polo”, and gold, silver and bronze medals.

There will also be new food symbols including avocado and bacon. And a range of hand gestures like the fingers-crossed, “call me” sign and selfie emoji.

Read More
  • The Bible has been translated into EMOJIS to spread God’s word to young people