Samsung’s latest smartphones, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ include a range of biometric security features including a fingerprint sensor, an iris scanner and a face scanner. The last of these isn’t just for unlocking your phone, though. In conjunction with the front-facing camera it can be used to create AR Emoji (augmented-reality emoji). AR what now? Think of it as an animated avatar modelled on your own mug.
But wait, doesn’t the iPhone X also have animated emoji? It does, but they’re a little different from Samsung’s AR Emoji. For starters, you can only map your face and expressions onto one of a dozen existing animated animals with the iPhone. With AR Emoji, you can use your own face as the basis of your digital self.
Or, you can use AR Emoji to map your face onto a selection of existing characters (including some familiar Disney characters thanks to a recent update). It’s also possible to apply Snapchat-like filters/stickers to your face.
Then there’s the issue of sharing. Apple’s “Animoji” work best in Apple’s own iMessage app, and while you can export them as a video clip and then share them elsewhere, it’s not a seamless process. With AR Emoji, meanwhile, your creations are exported as GIFs by default, so you can share them using SMS or the third-party messaging app of your choosing.
Creating your own AR Emoji is one of the first things you should do with the Galaxy S9, and it’s a pretty simple process. To get started, open the camera app, swipe over to the AR Emoji tab, and tap the “Create My Emoji” text bubble.Next, shoot a selfie, choose from male or female, and wait a few seconds while the S9 works its magic creating your digital likeness. You can adjust sliders to alter the skin tone, hairstyle and wardrobe of the AR Emoji it spits out, in case the likeness is less accurate than you’d like it to be… or a little too close to the bone. That’s the hard work done. Head to your gallery app and you’ll find you now have a selection of animated GIFs of your AR Emoji in various settings.
You can create multiple AR Emojis in the camera app, so whether you want to let friends or family in on the fun or just want a selection of looks to choose from, you’re covered. Of course, as impressed as we are with AR Emoji, what really excites us is how the tech that powers them might be used for other augmented reality applications down the line. For now though, if you see us in a Pick n Pay queue making funny faces at our phones at least you know why.