The feature is powered by the same technology as the facial recognition unlocking
The new iPhone X has some of the most futuristic features ever seen in a phone. And one of them is used to turn yourself into a panda, or a poo.
Apple demonstrated the phone by making much of its facial recognition technology, which it says is used to securely lock down the phone until it sees its owner. But that same technology also enables what it calls "animoji" – animated versions of the classic emoji that can track a person's face and do whatever they're doing.
The feature was demonstrated on stage as a way to send people talking messages that replicate a person's manner – but do it from the perspective of a unicorn or a dog. Apple's software head Craig Federighi demonstrated the feature on stage by turning himself into the "poo with a face" emoji, for instance – and that face then tracked everything his face did, and said everything he said.
"If you were by chance wondering what humanity would do when given access to the most advanced facial tracking technology available, you now had your answer," said Mr Federighi in the guise of a talking poo.
He went on to record a message and send it to Tim Cook, in which he said he was calling dibs on the fox emoji – which, incidentally, was seen reading out and copying everything he said. Mr Cook replied with the face of an alien, saying "take me to your leader... wait a minute, I am your leader!"
Those are just two of the many faces that are available. They are largely made up of the most popular emoji, and so also include the robot and the monkey, for instance.
The animated emoji are partly a feature in themselves, and will help enable iMessage to become even more popular as a messaging platform. But Apple presumably focused on them because they show the kinds of things that the facial recognition technology can power.
The same technology will be made available to developers, who can use it in their own features. Mr Federighi showed an example from Snapchat, for instance, which is using the sensors to make its lenses attach themselves to people's faces a lot more accurately and realistically.
That's all part of Apple's increased focus on augmented reality, which was another theme of the presentation. Both the iPhone 8 and iPhone X have new sensors inside that make them far better at tracking the real world, and allow them to be used for AR features that put virtual objects onto things the camera can see.