When Apple introduced its iOS 11 software update in 2017, it also announced a new feature for iPhone X users: Animoji.
Apple's Animoji are custom, animated versions of popular emoji characters. The feature uses the new Face ID facial-recognition system - currently exclusive to the iPhone X - to create 3D emoji that mirror your own facial expressions. You can make and share them with other Apple users through the Messages app. At launch, only a few Animoji were available. But now they're are several and even Memoji.
Here's what you need to know about Animoji and how they work.
What are Apple Animoji?
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. Sixteen of them, to be precise, are available, including poop, panda, pig, and robot. They essentially mirror your facial expressions. So, as you move your face and talk, they will do the same, in real-time.
How do Animoji work?
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.
To process all that face data, Apple developed the new A11 Bionic neural engine. It's 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 to produce Animoji.
How do create and share Animoji?
Animoji is available within the iOS 12 Messages app on iPhone X. 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.
Here's how to create and share an Animoji:
- Open Apple's Messages app.
- 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.
Which emoji work with Animoji?
You can create an Animoji out of the following emoji on iPhone: robot, alien, dog, cat, monkey, pig, fox, poop, panda, chicken, mouse, unicorn, lion, bear, dragon, or skull. Those last four are the latest, added via an update in 2018. We suspect even more will be added over time.
Which devices support Animoji?
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, as of September 2018, that's only the iPhone X. Go here to learn more about iPhone X.
What about Memoji?
Memoji are personalised Animoji. These can look exactly like you (or a version of you with, say, yellow skin, blue hair, a mohawk, a 'fro, man bun, or a cowboy hat). As you adjust your Memoji to suit you, whether changing the head shape, brows, or eye colour, you will see the Memoji change in real-time via Message's built-in Memoji builder tool. To learn more about how Memoji work, see Pocket-lint's guide.