What Exactly Is Bitmoji?

Create Your Own Avatar and Add Some Fun to Texts, Snapchat and More


Chances are if you spend any time on Facebook, Slack, Snapchat, Gmail or countless other apps or services, you've come across a friend or colleague's personalized cartoon avatar. If you've asked him or her about it, they've probably replied that it's a "Bitmoji." Hardly the most illuminating answer! So if you're still wondering what, exactly, these emoji-like things are, you've come to the right place.

The Basics of Bitmoji

Bitmoji is a brand from the company Bitstrips, which was originally known for letting you create customized comic strips using a personalized cartoon avatar of yourself. Snapchat actually acquired the company back in 2016—which gives you an idea of where Bitmojis fit in in terms of how they're used.

The basic premise with Bitmoji is that you're creating a cartoon-ish version of yourself that you can insert across a variety of web-based services, from Snapchat to Gmail and beyond. It's definitely about adding some fun to your communications—there are no real productivity-minded features here, and it's mostly intended to work with your chat apps.

The brand uses the slogan "Your personal emoji." And more than just letting you create a cute, surprisingly accurate digital version of yourself, Bitmoji offers lots of different versions of your avatar — with different captions, different emotions and more. You kind of just have to see it, or play around with it yourself, to know exactly what I mean, but as an example, there are Bitmojis with Game of Thrones themes, such as your avatar in a Night's Watch cape with "You Know Nothing" written below. So yeah, there are no shortage of options.

Here's a list of some of the top apps and services that offer integration with Bitmoji:

Keep in mind that this is hardly an exhaustive list; the Bitmoji keyboard, for instance (more on that later), works with literally any app that supports copy and paste, so you'll be able to take your avatar pretty much anywhere you go virtually.

Getting Started

You might come across the option to create a Bitmoji avatar within the Snapchat app, but in any case you'll need to download the Bitmoji app to get started. You can do so for both Android and iPhone. For Android, you'll need to be running Android 4.1 or later for the app to work. With the iPhone, your phone needs to be running iOS 9.0 or later for the app to be compatible.

You can use Bitmoji with the Chrome web browser as well—you just need to add it as an extension. No matter which option you choose, it's free to download.

Once you've downloaded the Bitmoji app for your smartphone operating system or for Chrome, you'll need to create a login. You have a choice of signing up via email or via Snapchat. 

After you've signed up via your preferred method and are logged in, you can get to the fun part: creating your own Bitmoji. You can create two different types of Avatars: Bitmoji style (which looks a bit more modern, with generally fewer customization options, all of which tend to be more... flattering) and Bitstrips style. There's no downside to creating one of each.

You'll go through several screens, customizing your avatar along the way by choosing a hairstyle, eye color, nose shape and much more. You can always go back if you don't like what you've come up with, and after you're happy with what you've made, you can still go back and change things later.

You'll have to pick between the Bitmoji and Bitstrips style even if you create both since you have to select one as your favorite avatar style. But again, you can change your selection later, so it's not set in stone.

Bitmoji Keyboard

Once you're happy with the Bitmoji version of yourself that you've created, you'll want to set up the Bitmoji keyboard on your smartphone so you can share your avatar in texts and in compatible apps. The Bitmoji app provides instructions on how to do this—and you can view instructions for iOS here as well and here for Android.

To activate the Bitmoji keyboard in iOS, you'll want to press on the globe icon when you bring up the keyboard to toggle your different keyboard options. In Android, you'll want to tap on the little keyboard icon on the bottom right-hand corner of the screen to switch between input options.

Customizing Things Further

One of the cool things about Bitmoji is that the customization options for your avatar don't end after you've finalized your digital character. You can change your Bitmoji's clothing by heading to the "Dress Your Avatar" section of the app—and you'll find plenty of wardrobe options. During the NBA Playoffs, the app offered jerseys for each and every team, and there are also plenty of themed choices (such as job-related outfits for everything from a chef to a firefighter). 

And, since Bitmoji is now owned by Snapchat, you can expect to see some brand collaborations. As of publish time, there were outfit options from Forever 21, Steve Madden, Bergdorf Goodman and more.

You can also purchase paid theme packs if you want even more Bitmoji options to choose from—examples include a pack featuring your avatar and characters from the Pixar movie "Inside Out." Most of these cost $0.99 per download, but prices can fluctuate, so check before getting your heart too set on any one extra.

Bitmoji in Snapchat

You'll need to enable Bitmoji in Snapchat, even if you originally went through the Snapchat app to download Bitmoji. To do this, open Snapchat, tap on the ghost icon on the top of the Camera screen, click the gear icon to open Settings, then tap on Bitmoji, then "Link Bitmoji." You don't have to enable Bitmoji in Snapchat for it to work in other chat apps, but you may want to.

Bottom Line

Bitmoji is a fun—and, for the most part, free—way to jazz up your texts and messages, and luckily it's pretty easy to get the hang of. Now that you understand the ins and outs of using this avatar, go forth and share silly versions of yourself!