SwiftKey, a popular mobile keyboard app owned by Microsoft, is adding a new animated emoji feature called Puppets to its latest beta build for Android.
With the new feature users can transform themselves into animals like a panda, dinosaur, dog, cat, or owl for a 30-second video that can then be shared to social media platforms.
That said, turning a human into an animated furry figure is not new in the world of smartphones. However, the technical design behind Puppets is interesting.
Unlike Apple’s Animoji that requires the company’s 3D facial scanning technology Face ID, Puppets leverages Microsoft’s neural network that identifies facial expression and generates animations accordingly. By taking this route, the technology could likely work on most Android smartphones with ordinary 2D selfie cameras.
Of course, there are limitations. Microsoft says the new feature functions best in a well-lit room and only with one person at a time.
Users can try it out now by installing the beta build at this link. SwiftKey plans to release the feature publically once it has received enough feedback from testers.