Apple has created 100 new emoji, including changing the gun symbol into a water pistol, as part of a plan to make the characters more diverse and family-friendly.

Set to appear in the technology giant's iOS 10 software update for iPhone and iPad that will be released later this year, more female and ethnic-minority versions of the communication language have been created, and a wider range of family options aimed at being more representative.

In a statement on the new icons, Apple said: "This exciting update brings more gender options to existing characters, including new female athletes and professionals, adds beautiful redesigns of popular emoji, a new rainbow flag and more family options.

"Apple is working closely with the Unicode Consortium to ensure that popular emoji characters reflect the diversity of people everywhere."

The Unicode Consortium is the body that monitors and approves new emoji before they are made available to technology firms such as Apple.

The iPhone maker is already planning to bring a feature to iOS 10 that will enable users to switch words for an emoji by tapping on it in a text message conversation.