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(Pocket-lint) - Snapchat's latest update completely changes how you use Bitmoji.

Last year, Snapchat bought Bitstrips, the company behind Bitmoji. Snapchat is now leveraging that acquisition in away that reminds us of Pokemon Go. In that AR-based game, you can look through your phone to see Pokemon roaming around the real world. Snapchat is applying that concept to its iOS and Android apps so that you can insert animated versions of Bitmoji characters into your actual surroundings.

Here's what you need to know.


What are Bitmoji?

Think of Bitmoji as a custom emoji character you can create to look like you. You can send Bitmoji in a chat on Snapchat and stick, sort of like a sticker, them on snaps (photos or videos) that you share individually with friends or broadcast via your story. But first you have to connect your Bitmoji account to your Snapchat. Go here to learn more information about how Bitmoji work and how to use them.

We also have this handy Snapchat guide.

What are 3D animated Bitmoji?

With Snapchat's latest update, Bitmoji are no longer flat, two-dimensional characters that you add to snaps and chats. They're now three dimensional and animated - and you can insert them in any one of your snaps. Snapchat has essentially expanded the World Lenses feature it recently launched. World Lenses uses augmented reality to apply filters and emoji to the world around you.

They are slightly different from the original lenses you might be more familiar with in Snapchat. They don't augment your face, but rather, the background of your photo and video. Go here to learn everything you need to know about World Lenses. Anyway, Snapchat has combined its World Lenses feature with Bitmoji to make them 3D and animated. This hybrid feature is called 3D Bitmoji World Lenses.

How do 3D Bitmoji World Lenses work?

Just tap the camera screen in Snapchat when you're using the rear-facing camera (not the front-facing camera), and if your Bitmoji account is connected to your Snapchat, you'll see 3D Bitmoji as an option in the lens carousel at the bottom of the screen. When you select one, you'll then be able to influence the Bitmoji character, including what it does, by walking around and moving your phone.

Upate Snapchat

The new 3D Bitmoji World Lenses are only available in the latest Snapchat update for iOS and Android.

Create a Bitmoji

If you haven't already, create a Bitmoji for yourself. Open Snapchat, tap the ghost at the top of the Camera screen, then tap the gear icon to open Settings, and tap Bitmoji. From there, tap the Link Bitmoji button. If you’re already logged in, you’ll see a screen asking if you want to allow Snapchat to use your current avatar. From the Bitmoji app, you can always change the look of your avatar.

Open Snapchat

Open Snapchat. Once you do, you'll be on the main camera screen. Snapchat said 3D Bitmoji are only available in the rear-facing camera, so make sure your camera is facing outward, and then tap the screen to bring up the lens carousel.

Select a 3D Bitmoji Lens

Scroll through the lenses to find a 3D Bitmoji World Lens. Tap the butterfly one to see a your 3D Bitmoji as a yogi, or you can tap the skateboard one to see your 3D Bitmoji skateboarding around. You can control the size of your 3D Bitmoji by pinching in or out. You can also choose where you want to place your 3D Bitmoji: tap around on a few different surfaces in the scene until you find a place to put it.

Capture and share

Once you're all set, hold down the record button. You can move the camera around and the 3D Bitmoji will move too. The whole experience is based on augmented reality. You can then add stickers or filters or any other decorations you want, and then simply share it individually with friends or add to your story. You can also save it to your camera roll or your memory page, if that's what you prefer.

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When will this be available?

The 3D Bitmoji World Lenses feature is rolling out now to iOS and Android users. 

Writing by Elyse Betters.
Sections Apps