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Animoji FAQ: Everything you need to know about Apple’s adorable animated emoji

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A talking fox. A pig doing stand-up. A singing pile of poo. A robot reciting slam poetry. You’re going to see all these things and more all over your iMessages and social media feeds in the coming months. They’re called “Animoji” and they’re Apple’s frivolous, fun, and downright addictive way to show off the capabilities of the TrueDepth camera in the iPhone X.

If you want to know how they work and what you can do with them, read on. Once you learn a few tricks, they’re a lot more flexible and fun than just sending an iMessage to your friend as a talking pig.

What are Animoji?

The word Animoji is a portmanteau of “animated” and “emoji,” and that’s exactly what these are. It’s a feature exclusive to the iPhone X that uses the front-facing TrueDepth camera to scan your face and make an emoji follow your facial expressions and mouth position.


When you talk, or squint, or shake your head, the Animoji will do the exact same thing. It’s more fun than it sounds!

Do Animoji use my Face ID data?

No. No apps can use your Face ID data. The operating system doesn’t even have access to it. It’s locked away in the Secure Enclave on your iPhone (a separate piece of silicon from the main processor), and is never sent to Apple nor shared with any apps at all.

But developers do have access to the TrueDepth camera through the ARKit interface, which takes the regular front-facing camera input and combines it with a course 3D mesh of your face.

Developers can’t use this info to unlock your phone, or analyze it to produce a set of data that could unlock your phone. In practice, it’s not really more dangerous than taking a selfie.

In other words, Animoji (and other apps) use the same hardware as Face ID, but Face ID is a different, totally separate set of data.

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