Microsoft Fluent Emoji
Microsoft outdid themselves with their fluent emoji, and now that they've open sourced them, they've outdid themselves again.
I was a big fan of Microsoft's Fluent Emoji when they were released last year sometime, and I still am. I mean just look at these little guys:
No doubt that Apple Color Emoji are iconic; because of the iPhone's popularity, the Apple Color variants of common emoji (poop, peach, tears of joy) are the ones that have entered the public consciousness.
But I really hope that Fluent Emoji find their place in the great images-as-words textual canon. The colours are more intense with terrific use of subtle gradients, the visual elements have been blown up for visibility at small sizes (like in text), the texture is soft and pillowy, rather than plastic or flat like other emoji libraries, and there are even animated variants for when you need a bit of extra pop.
Unfortunately there are a few emoji missing from the open-sourced set: anything trademarked, for example, like Clippy, or the Xbox. For the same reason, the flag emoji are also missing.
I love to see big tech participating in open source like this—I'll be keeping an eye out in particular for Fluent Emoji appearing in design-oriented Linux distributions, like Pop!_OS or elementary OS. Next step for me is to figure out how I can replace the Apple Color Emoji in macOS.