Microsoft Copied the iPhone’s Animoji and Made It More Accessible

Posted on July 4, 2019 by Mehedi Hassan in Android, Microsoft with 18 Comments

Apple made a huge splash with its Animoji feature on the iPhone. And much like a lot of what Apple invents, it’s already been copied by others, including companies like Samsung and Xiamoi. And today, Microsoft is joining the list to make its own clone of Animoji.

Microsoft’s version of Animoji allows users to create their own virtual animal characters that mimic their facial expressions and head moments, exactly like Animoji. The feature is integrated into Microsoft’s SwiftKey app for Android, and it’s launching with five animals at first: Dinosaur, Panda, Cat, Owl and Dog. Apple has a lot more Animoji characters, of course, but SwiftKey will likely update the app to include even more characters soon.

That’s all very good, but the best thing about Microsoft’s version of Animoji, called Puppets, is the fact that it’s more accessible. The feature doesn’t need a device to have a depth sensor in the camera like you need a TrueDepth camera on the newest iPhones. Instead, it simply uses the regular camera on a phone to create these animated characters that can track your facial expressions. That’s obviously very amazing as it means any user with a regular Android phone can use the feature, without having to need a $1,000 iPhone.

Microsoft’s SwiftKey team actually worked with the company’s Computer Vision and Research Asia team to make this feature a reality, with advanced deep neural network systems that are able to identify your facial moments.

The feature is available as part of the SwiftKey beta app here, and it’ll roll out to more users once the feature is more stable. Microsoft says the feature works better with the more recent and powerful devices, but it should still work well for all users with Android N or newer.

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Comments (18)

18 responses to “Microsoft Copied the iPhone’s Animoji and Made It More Accessible”

  1. IanYates82

    I'll give this a crack as I use SwiftKey on my Samsung S10.


    However I think they should make this a separate app - I don't really need it in my keyboard.... I appreciate they're probably doing it there so you can cram the experience into the context of another app and insert a GIF into your message, but it still feels like a lot for a keyboard. I'll try it before I judge too harshly :)

  2. William Kempf

    "The feature doesn’t need a device to have a depth sensor in the camera like you need a TrueDepth camera on the newest iPhones. Instead, it simply uses the regular camera on a phone to create these animated characters that can track your facial expressions. That’s obviously very amazing as it means any user with a regular Android phone can use the feature, without having to need a $1,000 iPhone."


    Not really that amazing. Adobe Character Animator has been doing this for years. Doing it on a phone may be novel, but it's not technologically amazing. The fact Apple needed to use depth sensing cameras says more about them then Microsoft adding this feature without that requirement.

  3. Rob_Wade

    Of all the completely useless wastes of time.

  4. Winner

    Microsoft likes what Apple does, as they copy so much of it.

    I know people will vote this down, but it is factually true.

  5. MacLiam

    Now we absolutely need -- or more accurately, a few would be amused to have available -- a Puppet Designer app and a MeMoji knockoff that might be called SelfieMoji to sidestep proprietary trademarks.

  6. evennotodd

    Hope it comes to iPhone.

  7. MikeGalos

    And that recognition that software needs to work for all systems rather than tied to one vendor is what distinguished Windows from Macintosh and Lisa and Star and Alto.

    It's nice to see a consumer app come out of my old colleagues at Microsoft Research as well. Although, following MSR's mandate, that means the basic science involved has been available for any vendor to use and Microsoft were the ones to realize it was useful.

  8. Tony Barrett

    FFS. The world is going to sh*t. Exactly what is the point of this, other than wasting yet more of your life and phone battery with pointless fluff like this. People these days must be dumb, but then I guess a lot are, because I can only imagine some must actually like this. Apple, Samsung, and now Microsoft. God help us!

  9. dontbe evil

    OMG how did they dare to copy such a revolutionary idea? the best animoji evaaaaa? are you sure that apple didn't copy animoji from anyone else? why you didn't ever write a title like your beloved "apple copied" thousands of things from some one else?

  10. wright_is

    Hmm, fun, but I have Robert Mitchum eyes and the puppet just has closed eyes most of the time.

  11. soundersfan

    Thank you Microsoft from an S8 owner. Now my kids with their iPhones have one less feature they can lord over me. Can you give me AirDrop too? But, looks like Google is going to bring us that one Google Working on AirDrop Clone for Android.


    I do find that it works best if I remove my glasses.

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