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Everyone’s making digital avatars, and none of them are great

Every company is trying to figure out what makes a good digital avatar, especially for messaging. Snapchat owns Bitmoji, which you completely build yourself. “Selfie stickers” are available on Google Allo. Animoji that map your facial reactions can be made on the iPhone X and sent in iMessage, and Samsung’s new AR Emoji on the S9 are part of the camera and can be recorded as long videos that are sent over any messaging service. Some — like Animoji and Samsung’s AR — map to your face. Bitmoji lets you try out pre-ordained AR scenes featuring your character, and Google Allo’s option are just stickers. None of these attempts work perfectly.

The world of digital avatars is still developing, and for now, the best thing we can do is survey the landscape. What works best? Are cartoons effective? Do we want them to resemble us at all? How creepy are Samsung’s? Paul, Nilay, and I took a look at these avatar attempts on the show last week. Please enjoy the nightmare that ensued.

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