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First impressions of the Samsung AR Emoji on the new Samsung Galaxy S9

Text and photos by Nicole Batac

You’ve probably already heard of Samsung’s own take on Apple’s Animoji. The South Korean company is calling it AR Emoji. How Samsung stepped up on its own is by letting you create a 3D avatar based on your looks. This is possible with use of a 3D modeling algorithm and face-tracking technology. We got some hands-on time with the Samsung Galaxy S9 and was able to play around with this feature for a bit.

The default camera app on the S9 brings this feature to life. There is an AR Emoji mode available for both the front and rear cameras of this device. And it’s a simple enough process to setup. There is an option on the app to start the process. It’ll just take a photo of your face and it advises you to take off your glasses or anything that might obstruct its view. Once it captures your likeness, it’ll ask if you’re male or female and from their it generates your 3D avatar. We’re not sure how many 3D avatars you can make but we were able to make two so far during our brief testing of the feature.

It’s pretty barebones right now, sort of like a “lite” version of Sim customization on the game The Sims. You can change things like skin tone, hair color, whether your avatar wears glasses or not, and the type of clothes he or she wears. But after you create this, you can start taking photos and videos with it, with the avatar trying to imitate your movements. We’ve noticed you need to articulate your facial movements more to get the AR Emoji to move.

On top of this you get a set of 18 animated gifs based on your AR Emoji, which you can send using other messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, making it a bit like a hybrid Bitmoji/Animoji feature. The gifs are saved on your phone, which theoretically you can use for different apps too.

There are also some animal-based and weird creature AR Emojis and other AR masks and stickers to play around with.

You can add frames and stickers to your photos as well, which should appeal to those who want to share new types of photos in apps like Instagram and Snapchat. But it’s a fun thing to play around with. Samsung announced at its Unpacked event that they’ve partnered with Disney so you can even use AR Emojis of beloved characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse and even characters from Pixar like The Incredibles.

Similar to what you can do on apps like Instagram and Snapchat, you can add things like sunglasses, caps, and frames to your photos.

We don’t think it’s going to be the biggest selling point for the Galaxy S9, but it will definitely appeal to users who want to have a bit of fun and want to express their creativity in a different way. Oh, and get a unique sticker set you can use to annoy friends with. 

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