Of course color fonts are nothing new, with overprinting techniques in use from the earliest days of movable metal type. In digital typography layering has long been used to achieve multicolor results and color bitmap fonts have been around a while. However, Mac OS X Lion and the inclusion of the Apple Color Emoji font represent the first time a modern operating system has included both support and a showcase color font. Although the technology is basic, with color bitmaps included at two sizes in a proprietary “sbix” table, in years to come, as color fonts gain traction, we’ll look back to 2011 as the year it all began.
Of even more significance is the fact that the glyphs included in the font are Unicode encoded. In an effort initiated by Google and with significant help from Apple and Microsoft, 722 Emoji symbols were included in the recently published Unicode 6.0 standard, putting Emoji on par with the Latin alphabet and other writing systems encoded in Unicode.