Samsung says its new animated emojis are absolutely not copying Apple

  • Samsung’s Galaxy S9 goes on sale next month.
  • One of its key features, “AR Emoji,” sounds a lot like a recently launched Apple feature called “Animoji.”
  • Samsung’s head of mobile denies that it copied Apple, and says that “their approach and my approach is totally different.”

Samsung’s newest phone, Galaxy S9, is ready to battle with Apple’s iPhone X for smartphone sales around the globe.

The device sports a beautiful screen, a fingerprint sensor, and a powerful camera. But the banner feature this year is called “AR Emojis,” which enables the phone to process your photo into a cute 3-D cartoon avatar that you can send to your friends and followers.

Many people think this sounds a lot like Animoji, a heavily advertised feature on Apple’s iPhone X, which first went on sale last October.

But according to D.J. Koh, Samsung’s mobile chief, AR Emojis have nothing to do with Apple at all. They’re totally different, and were invented by Samsung.

Here’s what he told The Wall Street Journal:

Samsung mobile chief D.J. Koh said in an interview that he had personally explored early 3-D animations since 2001 on flip phones, while leading the firm’s mobile research-and-development team in the U.K. He bristled at any notion Samsung was playing catch-up with Apple, as the human emojis took years of development, he added.

“Their approach and my approach is totally different,” said Mr. Koh, cautious not to mention Apple, a rival and components customer, by name. “I do work seriously based off my own roadmap.”

There are a few differences between the two features – AR Emojis create a cartoon of a person, whereas Apple’s allows users to inhabit existing characters, like a lion or a pile of poop.

The features in the Galaxy S9, including AR Emoji, were probably in the works for years, given the production schedule for a major smartphone launch. It’s likely that Samsung was working on it before Apple announced Animoji.

It took Apple two years to launch its own feature after it bought Faceshift, a startup which made the technology that underpins Apple’s animated emoji.

But both features are clearly similar and apply augmented reality technology to a fun cartoon that users can control with their face. Plus, Samsung has been accused of blatantly ripping off Apple in the past.

Compare the two features for yourself.

Here’s Samsung’s “AR emoji.”

Here’s an ad for Apple’s “Animoji.”

Samsung’s Galaxy S9 phones come in two sizes, one with a 5.8-inch screen and one with a 6.2-inch screen. The larger version has a camera with two lenses for improved photo quality. The phones go on sale on March 16, and the base model starts at $US720.

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