Unicode 6 out, with 2000+ new characters - but what support does it have?

A new version of Unicode has today been made available. Version 6.0.0 of the industry standard for the consistent encoding, handling and representation of text is also the first to be released solely online.

The new standard brings many changes, including the addition of over 2,000 new characters, new properties and data files, some corrections for existing characters, and some text changes in the standard itself. The new characters include over 1,000 symbols (more on those later); the Indian Rupee Sign – the new official Indian currency symbol; over 200 Unified Ideographs used commonly in China, Taiwan and Japan; three whole new scripts – Mandaic (a classical language from the Iran area), Batak (Sumatra in Indonesia) and Brahmi (north India); and improved African language support.

Part of the massive number of symbols added are so-called “Emoji”. Similar to emoticons, their use originated in Japanese mobile phone communications, and have grown across East Asia from there. The set of Emoji included in Unicode 6 were taken from sets in use by the three most popular mobile phone carriers in Japan. They include highlights such as “Smiling face with horns”, “Confounded face” and “Kissing cat face with closed eyes” – find all of them here (PDF link).

Michael Kaplan makes a good effort of summing up which version of Unicode your Microsoft product or framework supports (short answer: it depends). You can grab the Unicode spec right away, and find out even more if you want to about the added Emoji.

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