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Go beyond Animoji – creative selfie apps that transform your face

Ever wanted to have a massive beard, or shoot a rainbow out of your mouth? Today’s your lucky day

So: selfies. It turns out people have finally grown bored of snapping their own visage several times an hour. Now they want to transform their mug into something… well, not exactly beautiful, but at least different.

Apple of course fuses one option into its Messages app: you can use your own face to animate living emoji, known as Animoji – everything from a cartoon monkey to a cartoon poo. And if you’re not keen on the options provided, you can create your own bespoke Animoji – a Memoji.

But what if even a Memoji or three doesn’t satisfy your taste for endless variations on your own face – and beyond? Then you need these apps…


Free + IAP • v10.54.0.31 • 300.2 MB • By Snap, Inc.

If you ever find yourself around a teenager, you’ll likely be amazed at the terrifying speed with which they use Snapchat. With the ethos of living in the moment, the app is designed to have you fling messages about, peppered with stickers, map locations, and weird selfies.

Of course, it’s the last of those we’re interested in here – and Snapchat doesn’t disappoint. Point your iPhone at your face, fire up the selfie button, and you’ll instantly grow an impressive and bushy beard. Swipe and you can jump between a range of other filters that warp your visage in various ways – including one that dresses you in a dancing bunny costume.

Once you’re done, you can augment your cinematic masterpiece with stickers and text, before sharing it with your chums on Snapchat, or saving it to your Camera Roll for posterity – ready for any occasion where you for some reason decide you need to embarrass yourself.

Download Snapchat


Free • v1.3.5 • 198.9 MB • By Masquerade Technologies, Inc

When it arrived in very late 2015, MSQRD really upped the ante regarding live face swapping in video selfies. Remember, this was before Apple introduced its AR smarts, and yet MSQRD was able to track your face with an uncanny level of accuracy, mapping on to it all manner of weird and wonderful masks.

The app itself hasn’t really kept up with the times – it now exists in windowed form on newer iPhones. Even so, it’s still worth picking up due to the sheer variety found within its many impressive filters.

There’s the usual smattering of ‘cute’ and ‘horror’, but also more imaginative fare. This is the app to download if you want to turn yourself into a living cardboard box, shoot lasers from your eyes whenever you open your mouth, or don a pair of clockwork sci-fi specs.

Download MSQRD


Free + IAP • v4.2 • 212.6 MB • By I Love IceCream Ltd.

To a great extent, it feels like MRRMRR picks up the baton from MSQRD – and runs with it. There are some really great filters lurking within, such as an excellent square-jawed superhero, a range of furry animals, and some live emojis that are like what Apple might have come up with for Animojis if its designers had been drunk at the time.

Whatever you pick can be augmented with effects, if you decide selfie videos only work with, say, bubbles coming out of your nose whenever you speak.

There are some issues here, mind. A few filters are questionable (not least ones that badly adjust skin colors), and the quality doesn’t match MSQRD’s. Also, there’s a horrendous and presumptuous IAP sign-up screen slammed in your face when you first open the app. Still, prod the extremely faint close button at the top-left, and you can then check out plenty of amusing filters for free.

Download MRRMRR


Free + IAP • v9.5.2 • 185.6 MB • By Xu Hao

Given that all of the marketing surrounding Camera360 is centered around young girls and pastel colors, you probably know what you’re in for with this app’s selection of filters. You get an awful lot of sparkles, a slew of cute animals, and skin smoothing that’ll temporarily banish your wrinkles to the point you look like you’ve been ironed.

But if this is your bag, there’s a lot to like here. The tracking is pretty excellent, many filters come with variations accessed with a tap, and some of the options mix elements that stick to your face with static borders.

Also, dig a bit deeper and there are some interesting filters that can work nicely for a much wider audience, not least a set of comic book options that slap cartoon eyes in front of your own, or insert you directly into a page of artwork.

Download Camera360


Free • v2.0.6 • 171.6 MB • By Apple

Apple’s freebie video app won’t give you all manner of silly hats, cat ears, and glitter; and nor will it make rainbows shoot out of your mouth. Even so, it does have some creative – and suitably stylish – live selfie filter magic buried within.

Assuming you have an iPhone rocking a Face ID camera, tap the scenes button and you’ll instantly be whisked away to a scene called clouds, which… puts you in front of some clouds. This, admittedly, is not terribly exciting. But swipe through the options and you get far better scenarios.

A couple of Star Wars efforts transform you into a blue hologram on a ship. Arty takes turn you into a kind of living painting or illustration. The tasteful nature of Clips is perhaps rather restrained compared to most of the apps within this group test – but for some iPhone users, that will be just the ticket.

Download Clips

YouCam Fun

Free • v1.15.1 • 129.4 MB • By PERFECT CORP.

This app is obsessed with having you open your mouth. Select a filter and it’ll often demand you do so – at which point something will happen. For example, as a (decidedly dodgy-looking) DJ, notes will blast forth from your person; or when surrounded by tasty treats, a tiny hand will thrust a massive lollipop your way.

Quite a few filters are built-in, but it’s easy to miss that loads more are available for download – just tap the button at the bottom-right of the screen. And as an added bonus, none of them cost anything, which is pretty rare for this kind of app.

Again, it is worth noting that this one does seem primarily designed for teenage girls, what with it regularly dipping into skin-smoothing and ‘beauty filter’ territory. Even so, you’d be a pretty dour person who isn’t a teen if you can’t find at least a few filters to have a laugh with.

Download YouCam Fun

LOL Movie

Free + IAP • v1.6 • 73.5 MB • By Electric French Fries Inc.

Our final entry is more or less a hall of mirrors for your iPhone. On firing it up and accessing the filters, your screen is split into four options to select, with each quadrant showing your face mashed or expanded in various different ways. It’s the perfect app for when you want to look like you’re being sucked into a vacuum cleaner, or have decided you want to be a quite literal ‘blockhead’.

Once you’ve selected your preferred look (some, note, sit behind IAP – $1/£1 each, or unlock the lot for $4/£4), you can add a color filter and a voice transformer. Because if there’s one thing we all know, making yourself look strange in a video selfie these days just isn’t enough. It’s mandatory to also mess around with the colors, and to make your every utterance sound like it’s coming from a chipmunk.

Download LOL Movie