Last year, Apple was put under popular and celebrity pressure to fix its emoji -- the cartoon graphical icons often used in messaging -- and add diversity to the mostly all-white cast of characters (not counting the classic yellow smiley faces, of course). It appears that change is coming soon to the next OS X and iOS updates.

In a new beta edition of Apple's mobile and desktop operating systems, The Next Web spotted the new "symbolic" advance in diversity for the Cupertino, California-based tech giant on Monday.

It appears Apple's emoji selector for OS X 10.10.3 and iOS 8.3 will include an option to customize characters' skin tones from six different shades through a popup menu that appears by clicking and holding an emoji.

It all comes from an update to the Unicode standard, which is a list of universal graphical icons originally created by computer programmers in the 1980s and still run by the non-profit Unicode Consortium (the group also maintains coding standards beyond cartoon icons): The newest change to the Unicode emoji standard included a new section for "skin tone modifier" among its other technical coding specifications. Here's an example of the new options with the Santa emoji.

The new emoji is not without its detractors, especially those taking offense to the particularly bright yellow color currently being used for "Asian" character choice. But allowing that it's still in beta and currently imperfect, the change in emoji is still a positive step forward for Apple, as it broadens options for self-representation beyond the comparably pretty limited set of options that existed before.

But as we previously mentioned, diversity representation in emoji is literally a symbolic issue, compared to a much larger issue in the technology world that came to the public's attention last year: the broad lack of actual diversity in Silicon Valley's workplaces.

When asked by PC Magazine to comment on the new beta emojis, an Apple representative replied that "Apple supports and cares deeply about diversity, and is working with The Unicode Consortium to update the standard so that it better represents diversity for all of us."

But in the real world beyond digitized cartoon characters, Intel was actually the first to put real momentum behind its support for diversity -- announcing a $300 million pledge and a five-year company goal to "reach full representation at all levels" in its workforce, during its keynote at CES 2015 in January.