Google Allo
Google

Google is using machine learning algorithms to create illustrations of people's faces.

By Leena Rao
May 12, 2017

Google’s messaging app Allo just got an upgrade—an emoji upgrade, that is. The messaging app will let users turn their selfies into emoji stickers, according to Fast Company.

Google debuted Allo in 2016, throwing its hat into the already competitive messaging wars ring. Amid many tech companies, there’s been an all out battle to grab users for messaging apps, which include Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Snapchat, and WhatsApp. As part of this battle, these companies have been in a race to launch new features that might attract more users.

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Turning a selfie into an emoji may seem like a simple feature, but Google says that the algorithms powering the new tool are powerful, machine-learning technologies that could generate 563 quadrillion different faces. The search giant is using neural networks, which is a computer program that simulate a human brain, to create the custom emoji.

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In Allo, users will see be able to tap a button to turn a selfie into a sticker. After tapping the button, the app will ask the user to take a selfie and then the app will analyze his or her face, morphing the portrait into a custom emoji. The illustrations that result have been designed by artist Lamar Abrams, who was the designer for the Cartoon Network series Steven Universe.

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, launched a similar feature recently. The photo and video sharing app now lets users can now create a selfie sticker—which is a digital sticker of a camera selfie—that users can pin to photos or videos.

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