New iOS 16.4 emojis: what are the 21 new symbols in Apple 2023 iPhone update, what do they mean - full list

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The first new emojis in more than a year included hearts, animals, food, and other images

Several new features are included in iOS 16.4, an update for iPhones and iPad devices which was released to the public by Apple in April 2023.

Even though iOS 16.4 isn’t a full-blown upgrade release—we might not see iOS 17 until WWDC 2023—there are enough bells and whistles to please iPhone aficionados.

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Apple has focused on a few key improvements in iOS 16.4, but one of the most exciting new additions is a fresh batch of emojis, and the update contains all of the new emojis added with Unicode 15.0.

So what exactly are the new emojis, and what do they all mean? And - perhaps most pressingly - when will you be able to start actually using them? Here is everything you need to know.

What are the new emojis?

The first new emoji characters in more than a year, 21 new symbols—31 if you count the variations in skin tone - will be making their way to your iPhone, including hearts, animals, food, and other images.

Here’s the full list of new emojis:

(Image: Apple)(Image: Apple)
(Image: Apple) | Apple
  • Shaking Face

  • Wing

  • Donkey

  • Folding Hand Fan

  • Moose

  • Jellyfish

  • Grey Heart

  • Pink Heart

  • Light Blue Heart

  • Goose

  • Hyacinth

  • Pea Pod

  • Ginger

  • Flute

  • Hair Pick

  • Maracas

  • Wireless

  • Khanda

  • Rightwards Pushing Hand (six skin tone variations)

  • Leftwards Pushing Hand (six skin tone variations)

What do the new emojis mean?

(Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)(Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
(Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Here’s what each of the new emoji symbols mean, according to emojipedia.org:

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Shaking Face - A face that appears to be shaking from side to side with its eyes and mouth open wide. This emoji finds its origins in the comic book and cartoon trope of a shaking face. It can be used to express shaking from external forces like earthquakes, loud noises, or dinosaurs walking nearby. It can also be used to express shaking caused by strong emotions such as shock, fear, confusion, disbelief, anticipation, and excitement. Additionally it can represent dizziness, double takes or double vision.

Rightwards Pushing Hand - A profile of an open hand pushing or positioned with the palm toward the right. May be used to show a hand pushing something away or to represent rejection of something in general. May also be used with Leftwards Pushing Hand to show hands high fiving or holding, pressing or squishing something.

Leftwards Pushing Hand - A profile of an open hand pushing or positioned with the palm toward the left. May be used to show a hand pushing something away or to represent rejection of something in general. May also be used with Rightwards Pushing Hand to show hands high fiving or holding, pressing, or squishing something.

Pink Heart - A plain pink heart, expected to be frequently used alongside other hearts. Used to represent love, friendship and feelings of warmth, and the colour pink.

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Light Blue Heart - A light blue heart, frequently used alongside other hearts. Used to represent love, friendship, feelings of warmth, and the colour blue.

Grey Heart - A grey heart, frequently used alongside other hearts. Used to represent love, friendship, feelings of warmth, and the colour grey.

Khanda - The Khanda, the symbol of Sikhism.

Wireless - The symbol for a wireless or Wi-Fi connection enclosed in a square.

(Photo: Tengku Bahar/AFP via Getty Images)(Photo: Tengku Bahar/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo: Tengku Bahar/AFP via Getty Images) | Getty Images

Donkey - A grey donkey or mule, shown in full profile, sometimes with its hind legs kicking into the air. Can be used literally to represent the pack animal. Can also be used metaphorically to call someone a jackass or to say that someone is stubborn as a mule. Because the donkey is a symbol of the Democratic Party of the United States, it may be used in political contexts. Additionally, the term mule can refer to someone who carries illegal drugs across borders, so this emoji may be used to talk about smugglers and the act of smuggling.

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Moose - A moose head with large antlers. Can be used to talk about the actual animal. Can also be used to represent countries including Canada and Sweden, where the moose is considered a national symbol. Can also be used alongside the phrase “cool as a moose.”

Goose - A white goose in full profile. Can be used to talk about the actual animal. Can also be used in the context of idioms including “silly goose”, “wild goose chase”, or “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander”. Can also be used to talk about goosebumps or goose pimples. Might be used in reference to the children’s game Duck Duck Goose.

Wing - A single white wing with feathers. Can be used to talk about flying, both literally and metaphorical. May be used in phrases such as “when pigs fly” or “time flies”. May also be used to talk about angels, or to say that someone or something is angelic.

Jellyfish - A brightly coloured jellyfish with a domed bell and dangling tentacles.

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Hyacinth - A hyacinth with purple blossoms and a green stem. Can be used to talk about the actual flower, flowers in general, or the colour purple. Can also be used in reference to springtime. May be used as part of the symbolic table setting for Nowruz, the Persian New Year.

Pea Pod - A green pea pod split to reveal a row of peas inside. Can be used to talk about actual pea pods or peas, pods or vegetables in general, or the colour green. May be used along with the phrase “two peas in a pod”.

Ginger - A segment of ginger root with light brown skin and a yellowish core. Can be used to talk about ginger root or roots in general. Can also be used to talk about spice, flavour, cooking, or baking. May also be used to talk about redheads.

Flute - A simple yellow flute made of bamboo, plastic or metal.

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Maracas - A set of maracas with a colourful motif painted on them.

Hair Pick - A hair pick with a handle and several long teeth. Used to style hair, especially thick, curly hair. May be used as a symbol of Black culture or Black pride. May also be used to talk about grooming or self-care in general. May be used metaphorically to refer to the verb comb, meaning “to carefully search.”

Folding Hand Fan - A brightly coloured folding hand fan. Can be used to talk about fans, both manual and electric. Can also be used to reference various dances involving fans including the Korean dance of Buchaechum, the Japanese dance of Nihon-buyō and the Maranao dance of the Singkil. May be used to refer to a person who is a fan (or admirer) of someone or something. May also be used along with the phrases “fan the flames” or “when s*** hits the fan”.

When can I use the new emojis?

iOS 16.4 is available for iPhone and iPad users to download and install to their device right now. To download the new iOS update to your iPhone or iPad, follow these steps:

  1. Connect your device to a Wi-Fi network.

  2. Make sure your device has enough battery life to complete the update. It’s recommended to have at least 50% battery or connect to a power source.

  3. Go to Settings on your device.

  4. Tap on “General”.

  5. Tap on “Software Update”.

  6. Your device will check for available updates. If there is an update available, you’ll see a message describing the update and an option to “Download and Install”.

  7. Tap “Download and Install”.

  8. Enter your passcode, if prompted.

  9. Review the terms and conditions and tap “Agree” to start the update.

  10. Your device will begin downloading the update. Once the download is complete, tap “Install Now” to start the installation process.

  11. Your device will restart and install the update. This process can take several minutes.

  12. Once the installation is complete, your device will restart again and you can start using the updated iOS.

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