What Are Animoji and Memoji?

How to create and use moving emoji (even Memoji!) on your Apple device

Everyone loves emoji but standard emoji aren't very personal. Apple's created two related technologies to help you have a bit more fun when text messaging: Animoji and Memoji. 

What Are Animoji and Memoji? 

Animoji are an Apple feature that transforms specific emoji icons into short, customized animations using your facial expressions and voice.

Fox animoji. Apple

What's particularly cool about these moving emoji is that they aren't just animations. They scan your facial expressions and map them onto the emoji, so that an Animoji displays your behavior. For example, frown and your Animoji frowns. Shake your head, laugh, and close your eyes, and the Animoji does the same.

Even better, you can record short voice messages with Animoji and, thanks to the facial scan and expression mimicking built into the iPhone X and newer, the Animoji will appear to realistically speak your words.

What is Memoji?

Memoji let you create an Animoji of yourself instead of using a preset animal.

Animoji of a Lifewire editor.

How Animoji Works Behind the Scenes

Face ID is the key technology that make animoji come to life. Behind Face ID is a camera system that includes a variety of sensors, a speaker, a microphone, and even a projector.

All of these work together to analyze and capture dozens of facial muscle movements, then mirror those movements into expressions the animoji uses. Your voice is captured, too, to complete the animoji.

Companies that use similar technologies call their own versions of this feature 3D emoji.

You simply choose the emoji you like and use Apple's predefined options to customize your Animoji.

Animoji customization options

The Animoji List

It would be awesome if every emoji could be animated but, in the beginning, only 12 emojis were available as Animoji. In later versions of iOS (the operating system that runs on the iPhone and iPad), Apple added more.

A sampling of Animoji.

The recent set of Animoji included:

Alien Ghost Pig
Bear Giraffe Pile of Poo 
Boar Koala  Rabbit
Cat Lion Robot
Cow Monkey Shark
Chicken Mouse Skull
Dog Octopus T-rex
Dragon Owl Tiger
Fox Panda Unicorn

Apple typically adds new Animoji as it introduces new emoji in its annual iOS updates.

What Do You Need to Create Animoji?

The requirements for creating animoji are pretty simple. You need:

  • iPhone X or newer: Apple's flagship iPhone X series phones — iPhone X, XS, XS Max, and XR — have the Face ID facial recognition system built into the front-facing camera. This feature replaces Touch ID fingerprint recognition to unlock the phone and authorize Apple Pay transactions. The same sensors map your face and capture your expressions to animate the Animoji. 
  • iOS 11 or higher with the Animoji iMessage app installed: Animoji only work on iOS 11 and up. They're not built into the OS or iMessage. Rather, they're an iMessage app that's pre-installed with iOS 11 and up on the iPhone X and newer. So, if you have one of those phones, you've got the app, too.
  • iMessage account: You can only send Animoji via iMessage, not other text-messaging apps.

How to Make and Share Animated Emoji (Animoji) on iPhone

If you have a compatible iPhone running the right version of iOS, making Animojis is pretty simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. Open the Messages app and tap the conversation you want to use an Animoji in.

  2. Open the Animoji iMessage app (the monkey face in the row of apps).

  3. Select a character for your message by swiping left and right.

    You can also swipe up to see more Animoji characters at once.

    Selecting Animoji in Messages
  4. Tap the record button and speak your message. Both your voice and your facial expressions, while you speak, will be captured and mapped onto the Animoji.

    You can record up to 30 seconds of voice and animation.

  5. Tap the Stop button when you're done recording.

    Recording an Animoji in Messages
  6. Select Replay to preview your message.

  7. Tap the Trash icon to delete your message and create a new one.

  8. Use the Send button to send the Animoji message.

    Previewing and sending an Animoji in Messages

How to Create Memoji

Memoji—which Apple introduced in iOS 12–let you create your own personalized emoji, very similar to Animoji but with a key difference. This enhancement to Animoji gives you the opportunity to create a mini-emoji of yourself.

You can add shapes, text, filters, stickers, and more to this fun version of Animoji. To create Memoji, follow these steps: 

  1. Open the Messages app.

  2. Open the Animoji button (monkey face).

  3. Scroll left and tap the plus sign.

    New Memoji button in Messages
  4. Select features such as skin color, hairstyle, and accessories. Swipe left and right to switch between features, and swipe down to see your options.

  5. Tap Done to save your Memoji.

    Memoji options in Messages
  6. To use your Memoji, select it from the Animoji menu and use it to record messages like any other option.

  • Can I get Animojis on Android?

    No. The Animoji feature is exclusive to Apple; however, augmented reality (AR) apps like Supermoji for Android serve a similar purpose. Also, some camera apps, like the Samsung Galaxy 9, have built-in AR emojis.

  • How do I change an Animoji?

    Start a new message in iMessage and select your Animoji, then tap More (the three dots) and choose Edit.

  • Can the iPhone 7 use Animojis?

    No. You need an iPhone with iOS 11 or higher to use Animojis. However, Supermoji and similar apps are available for older apple devices.

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