Apple's new AI-generated 'Genmoji' solves a problem we've all had before

Custom emojis are one of many new features Apple announced at WWDC today.
Written by Chris Bayer, Editor
Screenshot by Nina Raemont

On the first day of this year's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple announced its new AI system, Apple Intelligence, which will be integrated into the upcoming iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and MacOS 15 operating systems. 

In addition to a bevy of updates and releases, Apple revealed a new feature called "Genmoji" which allows users to create new emojis on the fly simply by describing the emoji they need. In return, the feature generates a unique emoji tailored to the user's intent.

If you've ever fruitlessly searched for an emoji that didn't exist, then you know the (admittedly minor) problem Apple is solving here.  

Also: Everything Apple announced at WWDC 2024, including iOS 18, Siri, AI, and more

Apple's history of incorporating whimsical and fun elements into its products suggests that introducing an AI-generated emoji tool in iOS 18 is a strategic move. While the company has released more serious products like the Vision Pro, the playful aspects -- such as animated Memojis -- have always captured attention.

With the current widespread wariness surrounding AI, Apple may be aiming to generate positive interest by offering users a creative outlet for AI-based image generation, minus the heavy-handed controversy associated with other applications. Especially in light of recent AI fails like Google's Gemini suggesting users mix glue with cheese on pizza, Apple is providing an innocuous playground of sorts for consumers to exercise their creative impulse.

Further, Apple made the new AI capabilities opt-in, giving users the freedom to choose whether they want to use these features or not. Due to the demanding processing requirements of AI, however, these advancements will be restricted to the iPhone 15 Pro or the forthcoming iPhone 16. For iPad and Mac users, devices equipped with at least an M1 chip will be necessary to use these new functions.

Also: Apple unveils an on-device AI image generator for iPhone, iPad, and Mac

We don't expect to actually see these new Genmojis until after iOS 18 launches later this year. 

Some of the next regular emoji characters being considered for release that have been added to the emoji catalog by the Unicode Consortium include a fingerprint, a face with droopy eye bags, a leafless wintry tree, a radish (or root vegetable), a shovel, a harp, and a purple splatter stain. These are in Unicode 16's beta phase until early July, when the final artwork is expected to be officially approved, according to MacRumors.

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