At Worldwide Developer Conference today, Apple announced a new avatar system, dubbed ‘Memoji’, the company’s next step into the world of iPhone X animated emojis mapped to a user’s facial movements. Move over Samsung AR Emoji, because Apple looks to have gotten the cutesy Pixar-vibe down pat.

Apple Software Program Manager Kelsey Peterson took the stage to demonstrate the Memoji creator tool, which lets you select dozens of options including the shape and color of your eyes, face, and hair. The creator tool also includes sliders so you can pick precise shades of colors, and specific accessories like earring, hats, sunglasses, etc.

Image courtesy Apple

During the live demo, Apple’s Memoji showed an impressive range of facial movements that seemed to match up fairly accurately with the user’s actual voice. The resultant Memoji that Peterson created was decidedly on the Pixar-side of the uncanny valley, making it approachable and actually really cute.

Apple is also integrating Animoji, as well as Memoji, onto FaceTime group chat, which is cool if that’s what you’re into.

While Samsung released its own version, called ‘AR Emoji’, back at MWC 2018 a few months ago, the truly striking feature of Apple’s Memoji system is how solid it appears in comparison to Samsung’s AR Emoji, which not only proved to be surprisingly jittery, but offered overall strange-looking results to say the least—certainly less approachable and less cartoon-like.

Samsung AR Emoji – Image courtesy Samsung Central

For now, it’s not likely that users would choose a phone based on what personalized emoji’s look like, but as these systems grow and avatars become more and more intertwined with services and apps, these AR features, although admittedly minuscule to the overall task of selling a phone, are helping form specific divisions in these companies dedicated to creating virtual versions of you—something we wouldn’t have thought possible back in 2013 when the Oculus Rift DK1 first made its way to Kickstarter backers.

Apple Unveils ARKit 2.0, Putting Multiuser AR at Its Core

Teasing it out a bit, megalithic companies like Facebook, Apple and Samsung are essentially shooting for the same goal: relateable avatars that people feel comfortable enough using, and consider human-enough for whatever task. Apple certainly took its time creating a cute, and fun-looking avatar system, and you can bet its competitors have taken notice.

And as the smartphone generation inevitably takes a back seat in the future to wearable solutions such as AR headsets, we may look back at this time as the beginning of a long, protracted avatar war, as company’s demarcated specific design language and defined how their users would look to each other and the world. For now, Apple has nailed its selfie avatars, and we can’t wait to see what the competition brings next.

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. See here for more information.

  • NooYawker

    The memoji thing is cute but.. it’s pretty obvious smartphones as a whole has hit the ceiling. I mean, what else can we get out of them? They’re pocket computers, all we can expect are the same we expect from desktop computers. Faster, better graphics, etc. Time to focus on AR.

    • benz145

      Yup, it’s likely they will slowly become the compute and input devices for AR headsets.

    • Lucidfeuer

      Don’t confuse the lack of strategy, budget and ingenuity with a “ceiling”. There are countless things to do, most of which are available, but the barrier of entry to the market is such that it leaves a few industrials players playing the same “no spend – all gain” game.

      Also they’re not pocket computers, never seen anyone do most of the work (including prospection or writing) we do with PCs, and I’ve never seen anyone use a PC as handheld phone, camera, controller etc…

      However, 100x time to focus on “AR” or rather computer vision as a whole, the pseudo dual-camera or more ridiculously triple camera lense schemes are going nowhere instead of progressing toward lightfield/computer-vision like functionalities which only a smartphone is of use to.

    • V Z

      >smartphones as a whole has hit the ceiling
      Dumb iPhone users hit the ceiling because Apple is afraid to make the iPhone too complex because most of the users will not know what to do with it. There is plenty of innovation to be had on Android side of things.

      • NooYawker

        I thought childish fanboys hit a ceiling. I guess not.

        • V Z

          That’s what I’m saying! Those childish Apple fanboys have no ceiling! I’m glad you came to same realization ;)

      • anony

        You’re realy on the defensive against apple. kinda seems like youre a terrified fanboy. You must be for saying “Dumb iphone users” in the start of both of your first posts.

  • V Z

    In before dumb Apple users start posting how Apple brings another revolutionary innovation into their boring life.

    • Peter K

      screw off dude, If you are smarter than apple users perhaps consider making a constructive criticism. Blatantly yell out your own ill opinion is no way to conduct a civil dialogue.

    • Peter K

      Oh I forgot. Fanboys like you only want talk about how great your octa core mobile cpu is, or how great it is that you can make your own pc for like 7 dollars…etc etc, you must be so intelligent that you can build your own rig by slapping on a 1080ti, amd ryzen, rgb ddr4 3200 ram blah blah blah all apple products suck because they are overpriced and I can’t play my pathetic Pubg at 60fps in 4k hdr g-sync ultrawide monitor that apparently every windows users have.

      • V Z

        Where the hell did I talk about any of that? Dumb iPhone users still fighting the straw men, LOL?

        • Peter K

          It is extremely predictable what shit android users talk about… They bring out specs and want a linear specs to money ratio, then go on every website to shit talk. Try to go into a Mercedes dealership and argue about their pricing, and how little innovation they have compared to other car companies. This is basic economy 101, the power of branding. You don’t get your money worth if you are paying for a premium brand.

          • V Z

            Wth are you spewing off about? It’s like you make up your own argument and then trying to argue with yourself. I’m sorry, but it’s not my shift to work at your mental institution today.

          • Peter K

            And I’m sorry it’s not my shift to work at your kindergarten today, Dumb android user.

          • V Z

            Of course it’s not. People like you are not allowed to be around children.