Snapchat’s quirky Bitmoji avatars now come with their own three-dimensional animations. By tapping on your phone’s screen, you can now project a 3D cartoon of yourself into the real world, where you can then have it ride a skateboard, drink a cup of coffee, or do yoga, among other actions. After creating an animation, you can then send it to a friend or post it to your story.
The move reflects Snapchat’s continued investment in both Bitmoji and what it calls “world lenses,” features where its rivals have made inroads but not quite caught up. (Snap says that about a third of its daily users play with lenses.) Bitmoji, whose parent company Snap bought last year, let users reimagine themselves as personalized emojis, which can be used both within Snapchat and in traditional text messages. World lenses, which project 3D animations onto the real world, became a minor phenomenon this year when Snapchat’s animated hot dog lens went viral.
Bitmoji world lenses brings the two features together in a way that I expect that users will like. (Bitmoji have been available as lenses before, but until now they have been two-dimensional.) In April I wrote about Gabsee, a French startup creating what I described as the Bitmoji of the future: personalized, animated 3D avatars. At the time, I said it was likely that every major social network would eventually build something like Gabsee, because they made augmented reality applications feel personal in a way they haven’t yet. Snap appears to have come to the same conclusion.
Making augmented reality feel personal
To see your 3D Bitmoji, tap the rear-facing Snapchat camera screen and bring up the lenses menu. You’ll see 3D Bitmoji alongside the existing face and world lenses. Select one, and then move and scale your Bitmoji by dragging, pinching, and zooming. You can also walk around your Bitmoji. Snap says many of the animations will be longer than the standard snap length of 10 seconds, so you might need to select only part of the animation, or record two or three in a row.
Animated Bitmoji are rolling out now globally on iOS and Android.
Correction, 1:16 p.m.: This article originally said the feature was coming to Android soon. It is actually rolling out today.