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The new avatars, which begin rolling out on Monday, include over 1,200 different combinations of facial expressions, poses, backgrounds and gestures that allow Snapchatters to further personalize their profile avatars, which were most recently only available in 2D. The 3D avatars in profiles are meant to make Snapchat profiles more “expressive, fun and personal,” David Whyte, Snap’s 3D Bitmoji product designer, says.
But this isn’t Snap’s first foray into 3D Bitmojis: In 2017, the company launched an augmented reality lens that allowed users to make an animated, 3D version of their Bitmoji appear as if they were in the real world. Since then, Snapchatters can now play as their own Bitmoji in games, watch a personalized cartoon show featuring their Bitmoji and, as of Monday, have even more customization options for their profiles.
“It was a huge, huge undertaking to translate the whole library that we created for Bitmoji, in terms of all of the facial features and hairstyles and outfits and everything, from 2D into 3D,” Ba Blackstock, the CEO of Bitmoji, tells The Hollywood Reporter. “That work never stopped because your Bitmoji exists in all dimensions.”
More than 70 percent of Snapchat’s 280 million daily active users have their Bitmoji avatar linked to their Snapchat accounts, while 75 percent of the Gen Z population in the U.S. (ages 13-24) have a Bitmoji, according to Snap. The distinct cartoon avatars from Bitmoji, which first launched in 2014 and were later acquired by Snap in 2016, have also spurred some copycats from competitors like Facebook. But seven years after Bitmoji first came onto the scene, cartoon avatars are still resonating with users as they engage with others online, Blackstock says.
“It’s not just about having an avatar [where] you have a picture of yourself — that’s pretty easy. It’s more about what can you do with that avatar? What part does it play in your digital life?” Blackstock says. “Not everyone is comfortable putting photos or videos of themselves online. Bitmoji, in a way, I’ve always thought of it as kind of digital id. It really is this essential representation of not just what you look like, but your personality.”
July 19, 4:43 p.m.: Updated to clarify when the feature is rolling out.
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