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.