Apple has introduced a new iOS 11 feature: Animoji.

Animoji are custom, animated versions of popular emoji characters found on iPhone. The feature uses the new Face ID facial-recognition system, which is exclusive to the iPhone X, to create 3D emoji that mirror your own facial expressions. You can make and then share them with other Apple users through Apple's Messages app in iOS 11.

Here's how Animoji work.

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Apple described Animoji as “custom animated messages that use your voice and reflect your facial expressions".

Ever use those cool lenses in Snapchat? Well, Apple's new Animoji feature works very similarly, only instead of being based on custom masks developed by Snapchat, they're based on popular emoji. Twelve of them to be precise, including poop, panda, pig, and robot. Animoji essentially mirror your facial expressions. So, as you move your face and talk, they will do the same, in real-time.

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Face ID is a new facial-recognition feature developed by Apple.

To make Face ID possible on the iPhone X, Apple had to cram a lot of new hardware into a tiny area at the top of the display. This area is dubbed the "TrueDepth camera system", and it is made up of a flood illuminator, infrared camera, front camera, dot projector, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, a speaker, and microphone. When you glance at your iPhone X, the TrueDepth camera system kicks in.

Face ID all happens in real-time and invisibly. Now, to process all your face data, Apple had to develop the new A11 Bionic neural engine. It's essentially the company's A11 Bionic chip with a built-in neural engine. Animoji leverages the TrueDepth camera system used for Face ID as well as the A11 Bionic chip to capture and analyse more than 50 different muscle movements in your face.

It then mirrors your expressions in different emoji. Go here to learn more about how Face ID works.

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Animoji will be available directly within the Messages app for iOS 11, which is rolling out to iOS users from 19 September. Go here to learn more about iOS 11 and whether your device will get it. Anyway, you can create and edit Animoji in fullscreen, and they’ll be animated in real-time before you send them as a message. When you send them, the recipient will receive them as looping videos with audio.

  • Open Apple's Messages app in iOS 11.
  • Tap the App Store icon next to the text field in a conversation thread.
  • Tap the Animoji (monkey) icon from the selection of App Store apps.
  • While looking at your iPhone X, tap the red record button in Messages.
  • Tap the send (blue arrow) button to send the Animoji.
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At launch, you can create an Animoji out of the following emoji on iPhone: robot, alien, dog, cat, monkey, pig, fox, poop, panda, chicken, mouse, and unicorn. We suspect more will be added soon.

Anyone with iOS 11 can receive and view Animoji, but to create and share them, you'll need an Apple device that can do Face ID. Right now, that's only the iPhone X. Go here to learn more about iPhone X.