EXPRESS YOURSELF

Animated avatar apps take on Bitmoji

From the Olympics to the luxury industry, marketers have increasingly been leveraging young people’s love of emojis in creative ways. Some startups are taking things to the next level, offering consumers custom, expressive avatars that could give Bitmoji and other competitors a run for their money.

GABSEE

French startup Gabsee lets people create highly customizable 3D avatars that can be layered over the real world and animated. Wherever the user’s smartphone camera is aimed, the Gabsee avatar will appear, and a tap on the screen lets them move it. The app features 42 animations to choose from with eight that can be unlocked by helping the app grow—following or liking Gabsee on Facebook or Instagram, for example. The animations, which have been dubbed the Bitmoji of the future, can also be recorded for up to ten seconds and then shared through social media.

GENIES

Users of Genies create an avatar, choose which social platforms they interact with most often, and every morning, they receive short videos featuring news and current events from those platforms starring their avatar. The story’s source is also included to allow for deeper investigation. The company uses its own AI to determine which stories will be shared and generates videos to depict them with their pre-made animations. The app recently raised $3 million in funding, with celebs like Shawn Mendes investing in the app, too.

EVERTOON

In an even more personal take on the Bitmoji, Evertoon lets users upload a photo of their face that is then placed into a premade, customizable avatar that can be used to create a video. There’s also an option to add audio and upload a photo of a background for the emoji to hang out in. The avatar’s actions come from typing in an emoji command (i.e. typing the ‘thumbs up’ symbol directs the avatar to give a thumbs up). The company and its team were recently sold to Niantic, the creators of Pokémon Go, to help further build out its mobile products.