Weâve known for a while that Samsungâs been planning an Animoji competitor for its latest handset. Now that weâve actually seen (the admittedly clunkily named) AR Emoji in action, we can testify to the fact that itâs some combination of compelling and creepy.
That last part first. Like the iPhone X, the Galaxy S9 takes advantage of its on-board face scanning technology to offer up an animated emoji that corresponds to the userâs facial movements, so you can send animated messages, sing cartoon character karaoke and the like. But, as is Samsungâs wont, the phone takes things an extra step, mapping more than 100 points in the userâs face and building a 3D avatar.
Once the scan is complete, users can customize it from a selection of hair styles, clothes, glasses and the like, before firmly taking up residence in the uncanny valley. The custom AR Emoji isnât as adorable as Appleâs animals or benign as Nintendoâs Mii avatars. Instead, it straddles that uncomfortable line between cartoon and realistic 3D scan a bit uncomfortably.
Itâs first generation, of course, and Iâd expect that the company should smooth that line out a bit by the time the Galaxy S10 or even the new Note rolls around. For now, however, itâs a little uncomfortably creepy for my own taste. Thereâs good news on that front, however. The companyâs offering up some default cartoon options â including a rabbit thatâs a bit more anthropomorphic than Appleâs offering.
But Samsungâs got one big secret weapon on its side. The company no doubt ruffled some feathers at Appleâs big glass spaceship today when it announced a partnership with Disney, bringing the entertainment goliathâs beloved cartoon characters to its emoji offering. The companyâs bringing Mickey, Minnie and the Pixarâs Incredibles to the mix.Â
It seems like a bit of a curveball that Disney opted to partner with Samsung, rather than Apple this time out â after all, the two companies have worked together in the past on things like the Mickey Mouse watch face. And of course, thereâs been a fair amount of executive overlap between the two companies, between Steve Jobsâ involvement with Pixar and the fact that Robert Iger currently sits on Appleâs board.
Of course, those sorts of things arenât a guaranteed promise of partnership, and Disney looks like itâs not trying to play favorites with content partnership. Take, for example, the media companyâs licensing of Star Wars content for AR stickers on the Pixel 2.