In brief: Do you favor SwiftKey over Gboard as your keyboard app of choice? If so, you can now enjoy a new feature that turns users into cute animated animals that mimic their facial expressions.
Apple started the trend for turning people into animated characters when it unveiled Animojis alongside the iPhone X. We’ve since seen Samsung introduce a similar feature with its AR Emoji, as have Huawei and Xiaomi. Now, it’s Microsoft-owned SwiftKey's turn.
With the SwiftKey “Puppets” feature, people have the option of recording themselves as a 3D panda, cat, dog, owl or dinosaur, with more options likely to be added later. Unlike with Apple’s version, it doesn’t require the use of a camera with a 3D depth sensor—it works with a regular selfie cam.
“Whilst Puppets is available to all users, those with more recent and powerful smartphones will have the best experience,” writes the SwiftKey team.
The feature was created using thousands of image and videos of volunteers, which were then used to train a deep neural network to learn how to identify each expression. This enables puppets to recognize when someone smiles, opens their mouth, or blinks.
SwiftKey recommends using Puppets in a well-lit room and it will only work on Android devices, with one person at a time. Users can record up to 30 seconds of video and audio and share it via one of the many popular communication apps supported by Android.
Puppets is now available via the SwiftKey beta app.