TikTok introduces Avatars, its answer to Memoji

TikTok has introduced a new filter called TikTok Avatars, which creates animated characters that mimic your expression. Now you can finally start posting story times without revealing your face.

Announced on Thursday, TikTok Avatars both look and function a lot like Apple’s Memoji. The app uses your phone’s camera to detect your face, then overlays it with an animated avatar which copies your movements. You can then record videos with this virtual puppet, letting it fill in where you’d otherwise have to show your tired and unwashed face to the world.

There are two dozen premade Avatars to choose from, or you can customise your own. TikTok lets you change up your characteristics such as your Avatar’s skin tone, mouth, nose, and eyes, as well as add headgear and jewellery. Options are limited, with some of the hair choices in particular appearing somewhat plastic. However, TikTok noted it will be taking on user feedback and working with its Creator Diversity Collective to improve and update its Avatars.

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“From outfits to skin tones and hair color down to texture, building inclusive features and experiences remain our priority, and we’ll continue to listen to our community and look to creators for feedback at every step of its development,” said TikTok.

To try out this new filter, search TikTok’s effects for “avatar,” then scroll down until you find the effect called “TikTok Avatars.”

It was much harder to get the little pouty face heart to trigger when my Avatar had a beard.
Credit: Mashable / TikTok

Mashable’s experimentation found TikTok Avatars’ animation to be somewhat janky right now, especially compared to Memoji. I found it difficult to smile in a way that didn’t make me look like a smirking bully in a teen movie, as my smaller eyes caused by my lifted cheeks seemed to be interpreted as sinister.

My Avatar’s tongue was also confrontingly small in the vast cavern of its mouth. Pouting prompts a small red heart to float out of your mouth, but the vibe is slightly ruined by the fact that it’s almost impossible to pout without your front teeth showing. You can also make stars or hearts appear over your eyes by using your hand to make a peace sign or finger heart respectively.

Still, the style is fun and looks much more mature than Apple’s baby-like Memoji. It’s also just amusing to puppet the Avatars. Hopefully TikTok will continue refining Avatars’ animation and existing assets as it adds new customization options.

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