Back in November when the iPhone X was about to go on sale, I became smitten with its Animoji face-detecting characters, one of the most rewardingly silly applications of advanced technology ever. While reviewing the phone, I tweeted videos of them lip-syncing old tunes and called the results Animoji Karaoke. Soon, a whole bunch of early iPhone X adopters (including Nicki Minaj) had fun making their own such clips and sharing them on Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. Everyone else, it seemed, either enjoyed watching Animoji Karaoke or enjoyed complaining about it.
— Harry McCracken (@harrymccracken) January 24, 2018
With iOS 11.3–which Apple is seeding as a beta to developers today and expects to ship in final form this spring–the company is upping the Animoji ante with four additional characters: a bear, a lion, a skull, and a particularly fine dragon. Apple gave me early access to the newcomers, which are as uncannily polished and emotive as their predecessors. Naturally, I made them break out in song.
The more Animoji the merrier as far as I’m concerned, but if Apple is serious about giving these beasties their due, there’s an obvious next step: Rather than making Animoji available only in Messages, it should build them into its nifty Clips movie-making app. That could end the need to use iOS 11 screen recording to capture more than 10 seconds at a time, and would give Animoji impresarios the ability to create real extravaganzas entirely on the iPhone X. (I used iMovie on a Mac to corral this clip’s cast of characters into one show, dub in the audio, and add a few special effects.)