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Rawr looks to animate conversations by bringing virtual avatars to messaging

Texts don’t always translate the tone of a message accurately, but a few Finnish developers believe that maybe an accompanying virtual avatar can. Futurefly’s new, free iOS messaging app depicts avatars in the backdrop of a conversation that can react according to hashtag commands.

Rawr allows users to create an avatar to their own liking, and have them interact with another user’s avatar by using commands like “#kiss.” That one, not surprisingly, will have one user’s avatar kiss the other’s.

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It’s a little odd, but it’s not entirely different from sending a sticker, emoji, or GIF. The only difference here is having an avatar that looks like you perform the action, and these actions can range from twerking and hugging to kissing or tapping on a watch to indicate the time. The app has more than a hundred animations, expressions, and emojis people can use.

These animated interactions are also triggered through the words you type in the message. Rawr’s Natural Language Processing technology will convert a phrase like, “What time do you want to meet?” to an animation of the avatar pointing to their watch.

Rawr will also heavily focus on what’s trending in the real world — new animations “and items” will be made available for trending real-world events. Think along the lines of when Beyoncé unveiled Lemonade — you can expect avatars to drink lemonade, when users refer to the album.

The app also has a Globetrotter feature, which pairs you with other Rawr users from around the world. And to ensure security, Rawr founder Oskari “Ozz” Häkkinen tells Digital Trends that you can’t share images in Rawr; Globetrotter identities are anonymous, users can stop a conversation at any time, and can report other people.

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“Rawr Messenger has been built with teens and millennials in mind, and has a teen rating,” he said. “We think of Globetrotter, with its worldwide matchmaking, as being like a modern-day pen pals where users connect with people across continents and potentially find lifelong friends. As the platform grows, we have built the matchmaking algorithm so that it is highly unlikely users are matched a second time.”

Rawr is backed by early investors of Snapchat, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Facebook, as well as Arielle Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO Mark’s younger sister. The app seems to be a response to the increasingly popular trend of virtual avatars, which may have recently gotten a boost thanks to Nintendo’s first mobile app, Miitomo.

Rawr is free and available for download on iTunes. An Android version is in the works.