Apple is taking the humble emoji to a new level.
The company unveiled a new iPhone feature on Tuesday that transforms the popular images into animated digital characters that speak in their owners’ voices and mimic their facial expressions.
Apple uses the iPhone X’s built-in facial recognition technology to create these lifelike characters. And you can send these characters in a message to your friends – sort of like sending someone a video clip of yourself speaking, except in this case, you have been reincarnated as a digital cartoon character.
Here’s how it works:
First, you choose from one of the twelve animoji characters, which include a panda bear, a chicken, an alien and even the famous poop emoji.
You then speak into the phone, dictating the message you want to send. If you make a facial expression, like a raised eyebrow, the phone will notice and recreate the expression on the Animoji character.
The Animoji tool is available within the iPhone X’s iMessage feature, and you can drop an animoji as stickers directly into chats. You can also record looping video messages animated in real time along with your facial expressions.
Right now the Animoji technology can recognize more than 50 facial movements, Apple said.
“If you were wondering what humanity would do when given access to the most advanced facial tracking technology available, you now have your answer,” said Apple executive Craig Federighi while turning his face into a talking poo emoji.
Note that the Animoji feature is only available on the forthcoming iPhone X model, which starts at $999. The new iPhone 8 and 8s models that are also coming out this fall do not have facial recognition built-in, so you can’t create animojis. And of course, the Animoji can only be seen by a friend with an iPhone – Android users are out of luck.
Check out Animojis in action (at the 1:40 mark).