Snapchat brings Bitmoji to the real world with World Lenses

Snapchat’s World Lens feature applies filters intelligently to the world around you using augmented reality and your smartphone’s camera, and now you the app is adding support for Bitmoji to the feature. This means you can take those animated avatars of yourself and drop them into your surroundings.

It’s a smart use of both Bitmoji and World Lens tech – you can do things like have your avatar do some yoga on the boardwalk, watch it land some skateboard tricks, or just show it hanging out in your favorite spot. The Bitmoji animations will anchor where you place them, letting you walk around the animated scene to get a different angle, and they can be scaled up or down in size. They really do look like they’re interacting with the real world, which is itself an awesome technical achievement.

The 3D Bitmoji are created based on the Bitmoji you’ve already made using the app and your linked Snapchat account, and they’ll appear as a new option in the rear camera Lens options within Snapchat in both iOS and Android automatically.Some of the animations can run longer than 10 seconds, the max length of a single Snap, but you can use the new multi-Snap feature (on iOS currently, and coming soon to Android) to chain them together to get the whole thing.

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I was initially resistant to Bitmoji’s pull, especially when they were all over Facebook as Bitstrips nearly ten years ago or so. But under Snap, they’ve become a pretty fun way to communicate, either within Snap or using the Bitmoji keyboard in Messages on iOS or G Board on Android. Snap has done a lot to extend their appeal with things like Friendmoji and Bitmoji Geofilters, and these World Lenses seem like another smart extension.

With the incoming availability of Apple’s ARkit, experiences like these are about to become a lot more common, but Snap’s secret sauce might be Bitmoji, which it alone can offer its users. The personalized cartoonish avatars have actually done a great job of endearing themselves to people – it’s quietly becoming a situation where Snap owns a character with the affectionate value of a personalized Mickey Mouse or Hello Kitty for every one of its users.