At this point in the coronavirus pandemic, we all know face masks – such as public health officials agree they are one of our most powerful weapons against the virus, unfortunately they can be controversial. Adults raised in the United States literally have thrown childhood attacks in addition to having to wear them. In recent days, Apple has quietly entered the debate to apparently try to calm the situation with a curious solution: an emoji.
As noted by Emojipedia, Apple updated its emoji face mask, known as “Face with Medical Mask”, with the release of iOS 14.2 beta 2 this week. Instead of being a simple yellow with sad eyes that look sick, the mask wearing the emoji in the new beta appears to be … happy. In fact, it could be said that he sports a familiar smile.
This is because it is, according to an Emojipedia analysis. It is actually one of the emojis we already have at our disposal, the “Smiling Face” emoji. Apple just put a mask on him.
While it’s a subtle and not yet definitive change – after all this is still a beta version of iOS 14.2 – the new mask wearing emojis sends a powerful message. Wearing a mask doesn’t have to be a chore, it means you’re sick or it means unhappiness with the current state of the world. It can mean something completely different.
Wearing a face mask can mean that you are doing your part to protect loved ones and your community during this global pandemic. It can also show that you are still enjoying the little moments in life when you can. Because even if the world is terrified of a horrible virus, we have to move on.
I’m not saying people will all get philosophical like me when they see the new mask wearing emojis, but it’s important to note that changes in perception often start with baby steps.
According to Emojipedia, the original Apple mask wearing emojis has remained the same for the past 12 years. Apple has only made minor changes to the emoji over the years to increase its resolution. It’s not the only company that has portrayed the mask wearing emoji as sad or sick. Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and Facebook also take a similar approach.
Since the emoji only changed in iOS 14.2 beta 2, it will still look sad when sent to users who don’t have the beta or users on other platforms. Do the world a favor and don’t wait for Apple’s final decision to smile when you wear the mask. Wearing a mask really makes a difference right now and you should feel good.