Google’s AR emoji are still fun to play with while we’re all stuck inside

Depending on where you live, you could be just days or entire months into quarantine as we try to bore the novel coronavirus out of existence. Too bad the quarantine’s doing the same to us, huh? Well, if you find yourself creating Bitmoji scenes, building wooden block towers to pass the ages, or even looking at tigers and other animals in 3D space, you might want to fit in some playtime with some AR emoji or “Playmoji” as Google calls them.

Google has been in the habit of releasing small collections of these Playmoji for the past couple years as a means of promoting both its ARCore platform as well as a few franchises like Detective Pikachu or Avengers. There are currently 12 plug-in packs available ranging from burgers, pizza, and ice cream dancing around to cartoon athletes performing winter sports — hey, the Detective Pikachu pack is still around, too!

“I’m just going to completely ignore the Mr. Mime trying to harass me.”

Unfortunately, whether you’ll be able to play with these particular AR emoji depends on whether or not you have the right type of device. For the Pixel 2 and later devices in the series — a fair proportion of Android Police readers are Pixel owners — you should probably already have the Playground app. And in theory, if your device supports ARCore, you should be able to just use these AR emoji.

Playground (was AR Stickers)
Playground (was AR Stickers)

Alas, the sad fact of the matter is that it’s fuzzy: a number of recent LG and Motorola phones and maybe some Android One devices are able to let you play with them. Samsung phones, which have their own AR emoji thing going on, are the most prominent example that can’t use Playmoji, at least normally.

If you want to invest a little arm grease to get them working on your phone, a developer known as Arnova8G2 on XDA has created a ported version of the Playground app which you can download on APK Mirror. You’ll also need Arnova’s modded Google Camera app, again, available from APK Mirror. As with most hacks, results are not guaranteed.

You can at least check the Playground app listing out to see if it’s compatible with your phone. If it is, you can get to downloading all these stickers:

Playground: Pets
Playground: Pets
Playground: Signs
Playground: Signs
Playground: Food
Playground: Food
Playground: Weather
Playground: Weather
Playground: Love
Playground: Love
Playground: Sports
Playground: Sports
Playground: Travel
Playground: Travel
Playground: POKÉMON Detective Pikachu
Playground: POKÉMON Detective Pikachu
Playground: Winter
Playground: Winter
Playground: Japanese Phrases
Playground: Japanese Phrases
AR Stickers: Blocks
AR Stickers: Blocks
AR Stickers: Text
AR Stickers: Text

Interfacing with augmented reality objects is a bit fussy when their placement is based on just math (well, artificial intelligence) instead of bulky distance-tracking hardware as was the case with Google’s former Project Tango. It’s easy enough, though: select a Playmoji or a 2D sticker or put up a block of text from the drawer, then use one finger to move it in X and Z space and two fingers to raise, lower, or rotate it.

You can place a couple of characters from the same pack together in the same scene, then watch them turn to each other and take a video of how they react. Or you could attempt to walk in between a bunch of floating exclamation points!!!


And if you’re taking selfies, you’ll want to make a few faces — your Playmoji buddy will copy your expression while hanging over your shoulder.



And if those pictures and videos do anything for you, don’t worry. I took way too many to know what to do with them and I need to put them somewhere.

We’re all trying to find fun ways to vacantly pass the time here. Hopefully for you, this might be one of them.


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