What Are Animoji And Memoji? (aka 3D emoji)

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

Fox animoji

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. 

What Are Animoji? 

Animoji are a feature introduced by Apple in 2017 that transforms some of the classic emoji icons into short, customized animations. These are also called 3D emoji by other companies using similar technologies.

What's particularly cool about these moving emoji is that they're not just animations. They actually 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 be realistically and naturally speaking your words. The voices used by the Animoji match the character chosen. So, choose the alien character and your message will sound like it's being spoken by an alien.

Can You Use Any Emoji With Animoji?

No. It would be awesome if every emoji could be animated but, in the beginning, there were 12 emojis that can be used as Animoji, but in later versions of the iOS (the operating system that runs on the iPhone and iPad), Apple added more. The full set of current Animoji is:

  • Alien
  • Bear face
  • Cat face
  • Chicken
  • Dog face
  • Dragon face
  • Fox face
  • Ghost
  • Koala face
  • Lion face
  • Monkey face
  • Panda face
  • Pig face
  • Pile of Poo
  • Rabbit face
  • Robot face
  • Skull
  • T-Rex
  • Tiger
  • Unicorn face

New animoji are typically released with major iOS updates from Apple. 

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 system is used 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've got one of those phones, you've got the app, too.
  • iMessage account: Animoji can only be sent via iMessage, not other text-messaging apps.

How Do You Make Animoji?

If you've got a compatible iPhone, making Animojis is pretty simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. Open the Messages app.
  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.
  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.
  5. Send the message like any other message.

How to Create Memoji

Memoji — which were introduced in iOS 12 — allow you to create your own personalized emoji, very similar to Animoji but with a key difference. This enhancement to Animoji gives you the opportunity to literally create a mini-emoji yourself: Your likeness, but in Animoji form!

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. Tap the + sign located on the left.
  4. Select features such as skin color, hairstyle, and accessories.
  5. Tap Done.

You can then use your very own, personalized Memoji within messages or overlay it onto your own face when taking selfies. Basically it becomes another Animoji option, with all of the related features, that look like you.

Can Anyone Receive Animoji?

No. Animoji only work on Apple devices running iOS 11 and higher. Any device capable of running iOS 11 or higher can display Animoji, not just the iPhone X. Samsung phones are expected to provide Animoji in 2018, but those will likely not be compatible with Animoji created on iPhones.

Do Animoji Replace Regular Emoji?

No. All of the traditional emoji that we know and love are still available on the iPhone and all other devices running iOS 11 and iMessage. Animojis and Memojis are strictly a bonus.