"It's great, we need people with different skin colours among the emojis, and people with different clothes, from the hijab to the kippa," illustration professor Joanna Rubin Dranger at Stockholm's Konstfack academy told the TT news wire on Thursday.
The website DoSomething.org first let the battle cry sound, asking Apple to take a closer look at its 800 emojis.
"The only two resembling people of colour are a guy who looks vaguely Asian and another in a turban. There’s a white boy, girl, man, woman, elderly man, elderly woman, blonde boy, blonde girl and, we’re pretty sure, [video game character] Princess Peach," the petitioners wrote. "But when it comes to faces outside of yellow smileys, there’s a staggering lack of minority representation.
Apple's head of communications, Katie Cotton, responded to the criticism by stating that the software company was working to "update the standard". She did not say when such emojis would be introduced. The last time the offering was updated was in 2012, when same-sex couples were included.
"Digitalization means that we communicate ever more with pictures," said Rubin Dranger. "They have never been so important and so dominant as today and therefore we also need to be conscious about what the pictures represents."
She told TT it was "obvious" that the emojis should represent everyone.
"Otherwise you make invisible a large part of humanity," she said.