Apple’s Animoji feature – which lets you create an animation of an animal, ghost or other cartoon face based on your own expressions, using your phone’s front-facing camera – was announced at the iPhone X launch in 2017 and proved immediately popular. The roster of Animoji-capable handsets has since been expanded with the iPhone XR, XS and XS Max.
And Animoji themselves have evolved. As well as several new faces and the ability to detect tongue movement, Apple announced a new version called Memoji as part of the iOS 12 update in 2018. With Memoji you can create a custom Animoji – of your own face, perhaps, or the face of anyone you’d like to impersonate.
In this article we show how to create and use custom Memoji; for more general advice, see How to use Animoji.
Creating a Memoji
1. Open the Messages app, and either join an existing thread or start a new one.
2. Tap the A icon next to the message-entry field to bring up a row of app icons. (This may already be visible.) Look for, and tap, the little monkey icon that signifies Animoji.
3. We’re now in the Animoji drawer. You would ordinarily swipe left and right to select a face, but we want to create a new one. On the far left side you’ll see a plus sign instead, labelled New Memoji. Tap this.
4. Now we’re in the Memoji creation tool. It’s a lot like the character creation screen in a video game: there are tabs for Skin, Hairstyle, Head Shape, Eyes, Brows, Nose & Lips, Ears, Facial Hair, Eyewear and Headwear. Work through each in turn, adjusting the options to suit. Throughout this process an avatar will be visible at the top, showing your choices so far.
5. When you’re happy with your Memoji, tap Done. You’ll be returned to the message or thread you were in before, with the new Memoji animating in real time at the bottom of the screen. Now we’re ready to record a message.
(Don’t worry, you won’t have to go through that enormous customisation process each time you want to send a message. The Memoji is now saved in the drawer for later use. You can create multiple custom Memoji, too.)
Recording and sending a Memoji message
We recommend playing around with your Memoji before starting to record – experiment with facial movements (include the new tongue detection) to see how it all looks.
Tap the red button when you’re ready and your iPhone X will start recording your performance. (This records audio too, note, even though it plays with the audio turned off by default!)
Remember that you’re performing for the camera sensors at the top of the phone: if you point your face at the Memoji instead, at the bottom of the screen, you may find the sensors stop picking up your movements.
You can record for up to 10 seconds: there’s a countdown so you can see how long you’ve got left. It’ll stop automatically at this point, but you can press the red square to stop recording before then if you’ve said and done everything you want to.
The complete animation will now automatically play. You can tap the bin icon to delete it, hit the blue upward arrow to send it to the designated recipient, or (once it’s finished playing) tap Replay to watch again.
Once it’s sent, the Memoji animation will sit in the message thread as normal, autoplaying over and over happily to itself. By default, as we said, this has the audio turned off; tap the mute icon next to the animation to turn it on.