Why am I the only one that loves Samsung’s AR Emojis?

The first time I created my own AR Emoji, I was on Facebook Live. Judging by the mostly negative reactions from the media, I braced myself for the horror of the ugly animated character ready to appear on the 6.2-inch display of Samsung’s new Galaxy S9 Plus – with an audience watching along. To my surprise, I loved the way it turned out.

With Samsung’s AR Emoji, you’re able to create Jimmy Neutron-esque emojis of yourself that capture and mirror your facial movements, similar to the motion-capture capabilities of Apple’s Animojis on the iPhone X. The new feature is available on the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, directly in the camera app by swiping to the “AR Emoji” tab. Once it makes an emoji out of you, you can either make a video as the emoji character, or use it as an animated sticker pack in various messaging apps.

AR Emoji is stripped down to only the essentials.

Samsung’s clearly following Apple here, and I think AR Emojis look like a cross between Animoji and Snap’s Bitmojis, I was hesitant to create mine — ever since the release of Bitmoji Deluxe, I’ve slowly been stepping away from my Bitmojis and cartoon avatars in general. After the updated Snap app started offering an influx of customization options to choose from, I realized it made me start to over analyze how I looked. I obsessed about whether or not it looked realistic enough to send to other people.

Before trying Samsung’s method out, I assumed it was yet another feature that would force us to sit on our phones and try to pinpoint precise facial features. But I was pleasantly surprised. AR Emoji is stripped down to only the essentials – skin tone, hairstyle and hair color, outfits, and the option to add in glasses.

Even though I can’t make in-depth edits to the size of my eyes or the shape of my chin, I was able to make minor improvements – and that’s the best part. By simplifying the process, I got to have fun again. All it took was a photo, a few adjustments, and I had a 3D version of myself that I could send out in the form of regular emojis and GIFs, all integrated right into my keyboard. I wasn’t obsessed with tweaking it.

While some of my co-workers said their animations looked nothing like them, I did notice mine captured some distinguishing features. The natural dark circles under my eyes and the shape of my eyebrows were accurate. Yes, my head was three times the size and my eyeballs were slightly larger than normal, but it made me look the way a cartoon version of me should – quirky.

Even in a virtual world where the imagination has no boundaries, users are encouraged to represent themselves realistically.

To add to the list of apps that encourage us to depict ourselves realistically, Sony launched its Xperia XZ2 with an app that allows us to take 3D portraits with the front-facing camera. That means you’ll be able to snap 3D models of your face and post them to Facebook or use it as an avatar in a video game (or maybe even 3D print it). Even in a virtual world where the imagination has no boundaries, users are encouraged to represent themselves realistically.

I’m happy with Samsung’s AR Emoji, especially because it reminds me not to take everything so seriously. Regardless of the whether the emojis are accurate or not, it’s all good, lighthearted fun.

Samsung will most likely tweak AR Emojis in a future software update, but I hope it’ll still keep the option to stick with the cartoonish caricature. It’s ironic that in a social media culture where we edit and curate our content, our AR Emojis have to look exactly like us. With tons of filters at our disposal on Instagram and Snapchat, it’s rare we post anything without one. It’s tough to criticize tools like AR Emoji for not portraying us accurately when our own photographs don’t either.

Product Review

Move over, Roomba. The Deebot Robovac can do your job, at half the price.

Ecovacs Deebot 711 robot vacuum is loaded with all sorts of features you’d typically find in higher-priced robot vacs. How does this little robot stack up against the competition? Here’s our full review.

New rumors suggest the iPhone 2019 will continue to use Lightning over USB-C

While it's not been long since the last iPhones launched, rumors for the next iPhone are already surfacing. Apple's 2019 flagship could include a variety of upgrades ranging from a new design to enhanced features.
Home Theater

Still listening on tinny, muffled TV speakers? Try one of our favorite soundbars

You no longer have to sacrifice sound for size when selecting home audio equipment. Check out our picks for the best soundbars, whether you're looking for budget options, pure power, smarts, or tons of features.
Home Theater

Can a slew of high-tech new features save the HomePod from extinction?

The HomePod hasn't exactly met expectations as far as sales go. But a new patent suggests that Apple might be about to overhaul it, with facial recognition, gesture control and a high- res touchscreen. Will it be enough?
Product Review

Nokia’s 3.1 Plus is an affordable phone that’s crippled by its camera

The Nokia 3.1 Plus is HMD Global’s first smartphone to be sold by a U.S. carrier in-store. It’s only available on Cricket Wireless right now, which underlines its focus on affordability. Should you buy a phone this affordable?

Apple loses battle to use Intel modems in Germany in latest clash with Qualcomm

Apple is following the Federal Trade Commission's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.

Exclusive: Take a look at what a next-generation 5G phone will look like

With 5G phones debuting at MWC in mere days, there is discussion about whether they will be clunky bricks that die after a few hours? A reference design from Qualcomm offerrs a glimpse of the future: This is what 5G phones will look like.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Coffee Meets Bagel dating app data may have been breached

Are you planning on using Coffee Meets Bagel to find love on Valentine's Day? If you've been using the app for a while, you'll probably want to change your password -- the company said a data breach may have taken place before May 2018.

Worried about extra data charges? Here's how to check your usage on an iPhone

It's common to get a little nervous about nearing data limits. Keep your peace of mind by checking how much data your iPhone is using. Our guide on how to check data usage on an iPhone helps you stay in control.

North Focals smartglasses discount cuts the price by a massive $400

Canadian startup North is hoping smartglasses will be the next big wearable. After announcing its new Focals smartglasses in late 2018, the company opened product showrooms in Brooklyn and Toronto and has made its first shipment.

New Apple patent hints clamshell-style foldable phone may be in the works

Apple has filed a patent for a foldable phone that suggests the company could be following in the footsteps of the likes of Samsung and Huawei. The patent describes a clamshell-style foldable phone with two separate sections.

Xiaomi Mi 9 will be one of the first phones with monster Snapdragon 855 chip

Xiaomi's next major smartphone release will be the Mi 9, and the company hasn't held back in giving us a good look at the phone, revealing the design, the camera, and a stunning color.

Galaxy Watch Active isn't official yet, but you can see it in Samsung's own app

Samsung may be about to resurrect its Sport line of smartwatches under a new name: The Galaxy Watch Sport Active. Leaks and rumors are building our picture of the device at the moment.

Stop buying old tablets, says Samsung, buy the new Galaxy Tab S5e instead

Samsung has launched the Galaxy Tab S5e -- the E is for Essential -- a reasonably priced tablet that includes many of the features we like from the Tab A 10.5, and the Tab S4. Here's what you need to know.