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Swiftkey Puppets brings AR-powered emoji to all Android users

Who says you need a phone from a specific brand to enjoy AR-powered emoji? Certainly not the Swiftkey team.

Published onJuly 4, 2019

Gboard may have stolen some of Swiftkey’s thunder in recent years, but the Microsoft-owned keyboard app is still one of the best solutions around. Now, the company has announced a major addition to its Android beta in the form of AR-powered emoji.

The Swiftkey Puppets feature is similar to Apple, Samsung, and Xiaomi‘s AR emoji functions, as a virtual character mimics your expressions and movements. Swiftkey says users can choose a dinosaur, panda, cat, owl or dog as their avatars of choice. The team says it uses Microsoft’s 3D face tracking technology as well as a deep neural network to figure out your expressions.

Swiftkey’s team notes that you can record videos of up to 30 seconds in length before sending them via “almost any chat or social media app.” 

AR-powered emoji for cheap phones too?

Swiftkey Puppets.

Much like Samsung AR Emoji, Swiftkey Puppets doesn’t rely on 3D cameras to function properly. Instead, the team says it works with your standard selfie camera, opening the door for many more phones to gain the feature.

It’s not a brand-specific feature either, so you can theoretically use this whether you’ve got a Redmi Note 7 or Galaxy S10. “Whilst Puppets is available to all users, those with more recent and powerful smartphones will have the best experience,” the team notes, adding that it requires Android 7.0. 

Android emoji - everything you need to know
Swiftkey Emojis shown on Google Pixel 3 XL

Rival apps such as Samsung’s AR Emoji also offer avatars that can be customized to look like the user. Unfortunately Swiftkey Puppets lacks this feature and the team says it has nothing to share regarding future plans in this regard.

You can try out the Swiftkey beta with Puppets by clicking the Play Store button below. Otherwise, the team is also calling on users to submit feedback related to the new feature over here.