Due to COVID-19, the Unicode Consortium has decided to postpone the release of version
14.0 of the Unicode Standard by 6 months, from March to September of 2021. This
delay will also impact related specifications and data, such as new emoji
characters.

The Unicode Consortium relies heavily on the efforts of volunteers.
“Under the current circumstances we’ve heard that our contributors have a lot on
their plates at the moment and decided it was in the best interests of our
volunteers and the organizations that depend on the standard to push out our
release date,” said Mark Davis, President of the Consortium. “This
year we simply can’t commit to the same schedule we’ve adhered to in the past.”

ICU and CLDR to stay on schedule

The two other main Unicode projects,
ICU and
CLDR
, are maintaining their 6-month cycles for releases in the spring and
fall, although the feature sets this year may be lighter. The CLDR project
supplies language- and locale-specific data and specifications, while the ICU
project supplies internationalization code libraries that allow operating
systems and applications to use Unicode and CLDR data and specifications. These
projects are impacted less by current conditions since they have always
operated via virtual meetings and are more compartmentalized, meaning that it is
easier to withhold a particular feature if it falls behind schedule without
jeopardizing the whole release. Sub-projects of CLDR and ICU, such as the CLDR
Message Formatting project, will also be little affected.

Emoji

This announcement does not affect the new emoji included in Unicode
Standard version 13.0 announced on

March 10, 2020
.

Because of the lead time for developers to incorporate emoji into
mobile phones, emoji that are finalized in January don’t appear on phones until
the following September or so. For example, the
emoji
that were included in Release 13.0 in March 2020
won’t generally be on
phones until the fall of 2020. With the delay of the release of Unicode 14.0,
the deadline for submission of new emoji character proposals for Emoji 14.0 is
also being postponed until September 2020.

The Consortium is considering whether it is feasible to release
emoji
sequences
in an Emoji 13.1 release. These sequences make use of existing
characters. An example from Emoji 13.0 is the

black cat
, which is internally a combination of the cat emoji and black
large square emoji. Since sequences rely only on combinations of existing
characters in the Unicode Standard, they can be implemented on a separate
schedule, and don’t require a new version of Unicode or the encoding of new
characters. Such an Emoji 13.1 release would be in time for release on mobile
phones in 2021.

The Emoji Subcommittee will be accepting new emoji character
proposals for Emoji 14.0 from June 15, 2020 until September 1, 2020. Any new
emoji characters incorporated into Emoji 14.0 would appear on phones and other
devices in 2022.


Over 140,000 characters are available for adoption
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