Video call

Zoom takes on Apple’s Animoji with its new video call avatars

Zoom is trying to make its work calls a little lighter while taking note of Apple’s Animoji feature.

In a blog post, the company announced that it is bringing in-app avatars to its video calling experience. Zoom says avatars will be available for both its Zoom Meetings and its Zoom Webinar products.

Available for Zoom meetings and the Zoom webinar, avatars replace your appearance with a virtual pet that mirrors your head movements and facial expressions. Avatars are an easy and fun way to engage with participants and create a bit of fun. They also provide good middle ground for users who don’t want to appear in front of the camera, but still want to express body language and facial expressions.

Zoom states that privacy is built into the feature and images of your face do not leave your device while using the feature. Although it recognizes a face, it does not distinguish between individual faces.

When you activate the Avatars feature in a meeting, Zoom’s technology uses your device’s camera to detect the location of a face on the screen and apply the selected avatar effect. Images of your face do not leave your device when you use this feature, and they are not stored or sent to Zoom. This feature does not use facial recognition, which means it does not identify you. So while the Avatars feature can tell what is or isn’t a face, it doesn’t recognize or distinguish between individual faces. Currently, we only offer animal avatars at the moment, but keep an eye out for updates to this feature and new avatars in the future!

The only avatars available at launch are animals, including a dog, cat, rabbit, fox, cow, and raccoon. Users will be able to use the new avatars on the Windows, Mac and iPhone app.

The feature is similar to Apple’s Animoji, which lets you transform into an animal on FaceTime and iMessage. Apple also offers Memoji, which lets you create a digital avatar of yourself to use on Apple’s FaceTime and iMessage apps as well.