What Are Animoji and Memoji?

How to use moving emoji or 3D emoji (even Memoji!) on your Apple device

Everyone loves emoji. What fun would text messages be if you couldn't flirt with a winky face, invite people to dinner by showing them tacos, or explain just how bad your day was with the pile of poop? But standard emoji aren't very personal. Apple's got that fixed with two related technologies it's created for use when text messaging: Animoji and Memoji. 

Fox animoji
Apple

What Are Animoji? 

Animoji are a feature Apple introduced in 2017 that transforms some of the classic emoji icons into short, customized animations. Companies that use similar technologies call their own versions of this feature 3D emoji.

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 acts out your behavior. 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.

Can You Use Any Emoji With Animoji?

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. The full set of current Animoji is:

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

Apple has added new Animoji as it introduced 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 Do You Make Animoji?

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.