With Apple expected to unveil the first developer preview of its next major iOS update — iOS 13 — in only a few more weeks, developers with an inside track have been giving us some new insights into what we can expect.
In addition to a number of interesting technical improvements to features like Siri, NFC, and augmented reality — and of course the expected Marzipan treatment — it also looks like Apple plans to continue expanding its menagerie of Animoji.
According to developer Steve Troughton-Smith, who is often among the first to share insights into discoveries found in iOS beta code, the new iOS 13 could include a cow, an octopus, a mouse, and an “emoji” face.
It’s unclear how Troughton-Smith obtained this information, however; ordinarily, such revelations come from early iOS developer betas, but since iOS 13 hasn’t yet been released outside of Apple’s walls, and it’s unlikely that this kind of code would already be in the iOS 12.3 betas.
Some have speculated that the iOS developers may have discovered an unprotected link to an early iOS 13 internal build, or that he may have simply received the information from another inside source.
Apple originally introduced Animoji in late 2017 as a cool built-in feature to show off what the new TrueDepth camera on its iPhone was really capable of beyond the technologically-interesting but relatively un-splashy Face ID feature, allowing emoji-style cartoon heads to be animated to match a user’s facial expressions, as captured by the front-facing camera.
The original lineup of 12 Animoji characters in iOS 11 was comprised of an alien, a cat, a dog, a fox, a chicken, a monkey, a panda, a pig, a rabbit, a robot, a unicorn, and an animated pile of poo. While that list remained static for several months, Apple surprised many when iOS 11.3 added in a bear, a dragon, a lion, and a skull. Apple continued this trend, adding four additional Animoji characters every few iOS releases; iOS 12 gained a koala, a tiger, a ghost, and a tyrannosaurus rex, and then last month we got a boar, a giraffe, and owl, and a shark in iOS 12.2, the last leading to a resurgence of Animoji karaoke with many deciding it was just too perfect of a match for recording themselves singing “Baby Shark.”
While we haven’t seen any images of what the new Animoji will actually look like, some have begun speculating that the mouse Animoji could actually be Mickey Mouse, rather than merely a generic cartoon rodent. This would of course need to be done in partnership with Disney, but there’s lots of precedent for it; Apple already introduced Mickey and Minnie Mouse watch faces for the Apple Watch back in 2016, and has also struck content deals with Disney and Pixar for new branded and themes content in its Clips app, adding not only Mickey and Minnie, but also Donald and Daisy Duck and a range of characters from Toy Story and Inside Out.
Many developers are also hoping that Apple will someday open Animoji to third-party developers to allow them to create their own, although there seems to be no evidence that this is on the horizon for iOS 13 as of yet.