Do you pepper every conversation with Bitmojis just for the delight of seeing your cartoon avatar onscreen? Hang on to your turmeric latte, because I have got a treat for you. The new Samsung Galazy S9 introduces AR Emoji, which transport your charming face directly into your phone in the form of an animated 3D model. All you need to do is snap a quick selfie to map out your face, and voila! There sits your visage, nodding and smiling with you. If you've ever wondered what you would look like as a character from Shrek, now is the time to find out.
According to Tech Radar, the new Galaxy S9 and S9+ debuted at Samsung's MWC 2018 press conference on Sunday. A press release provided to Bustle notes that preorders will begin on Mar. 2, followed by the official release on Mar. 16. Both models come with all kinds of new, snazzy features like a low light camera and "super slow-mo" video, but the one that has everyone talking is the AR Emoji.
The idea behind AR Emoji will be familiar to anyone who's played with an iPhone X recently. Like Apple's Animoji, AR Emojis use facial scanning technology to create a 3D cartoon that corresponds with the user's movements. If you wink, so does your AR Emoji. If you nod, it nods. If you burst into song, it sings along. You get the idea. (For his part, the head of Samsung mobile told the Wall Street Journal that he had been working on 3D animations for years before the advent of Animoji.)
But that's where the similarities to Animoji end. Instead of turning you into a cutesy fox or unicorn, the Galaxy S9 creates an avatar that lands somewhere between cartoonish and realistic.
So how does AR Emoji work? Like most things smartphone-related, the feature is designed to be easy to use. According to The Verge, just take a photo of yourself smiling with your mouth closed. Your phone uses this 2D picture to map out more than 100 features on your face, building a 3D model as it goes. No avatar would be complete, of course, without customization, so you can change your hair color and clothes, add glasses, and so on. (In that way, it's a lot like the ever-popular Bitmoji or Nintendo's Mii characters.)
Once you're satisfied with your AR Emoji's style, you can take a photo or create a clip of it reflecting your expression and send it as a message. According to Samsung's press release, AR Emoji should work with most third-party messaging platforms.
But wait! There's more. If you're not into the idea of seeing your plain old animated face onscreen, Tech Crunch reports that AR Emojis also have some cartoon options that include animals. More importantly, Samsung has an ace up its sleeve that might entice you. The phone company has managed to partner with Disney this time around, allowing them to offer Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and the cast of The Incredibles as AR Emoji. Alas, you can't turn yourself into any of the Disney princesses, but if you're not at least a little excited by the idea of using the most iconic mouse in history as an avatar on your phone, it's time to turn in your '90s kid card.
For those who are in the market for a new phone — or totally enthralled by the idea of AR Emoji — the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ will be available for sale in just a few short weeks. To learn more about the phone's other cool features, check out the official Samsung website.