The change comes in the wake of continuing gun violence in the US, including the killing of two black men by police and the resulting spate of deadly attacks against officers.
The new green and orange emoji, with white plastic trigger, looks distinctly like a harmless toy and will replace the black and silver revolver.
The change, which comes into effect from September, was announced as Apple released 100 new emoji, including a rainbow flag, female athletes, police officers and construction workers and single-parent families.
In a statement that did not directly address the replacement of the gun, Apple said the update included “beautiful redesigns of popular emoji”.
The statement said Apple worked with Unicode Consortium, the organisation that handles the character standard, on the update to ensure that emoji reflected the diversity of its users.
When contacted by the Guardian, an Apple spokesman declined to give an official comment. However sources confirmed that the water pistol was replacing the gun.
While the move was welcomed by anti-gun groups in the US, some questioned the point.
Apple has previously pushed back against violent emojis. Earlier this year Apple and Microsoft successfully argued against the addition of a rifle emoji.
In 2014 the company joined an ultimately successful campaign to introduce more diverse emoji, eventually leading to the skin-tone choices available today. And Apple initially blocked the gun, bomb and knife from even showing up on OS X Yosemite, well after they’d appeared on the iPhone.
Apple’s decision to replace the revolver comes after Microsoft changed its toy gun to resemble a real-life pistol.
This article was written by Bonnie Malkin, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 2nd August 2016 01.32 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010