After the invasion of the Animoji during their first weekend of availability, users began to do different tests on the iPhone X. One of them was to cover part of the TrueDepth sensor to see if the Animoji were still working, which actually happens. This led many to believe that Apple had restricted the use of the Animoji to the iPhone X artificially and as an argument for selling the terminal star of this generation.
As it happens on other occasions, it's not about the full story
The Animoji need the TrueDepth sensor to work correctly
The popular technological YouTuber Marques Brownlee was the one who unleashed the headlines with the top video (minute 11:30 approximately): when he covered part of the set of sensors TrueDepth, his Animoji was still working as if nothing. In appearance
According to Apple, Animoji use both these sensors (common to Face ID) and the A11 Bionic chip, which thanks to its neuronal chip is capable of playing Animoji. That is to say, that the combination iOS + TrueDepth + A11 Bionic is the necessary one to be able to show a reproduction of our face in animated form.
With the video of Brownlee, the doubts began to arise around the exclusivity of the iPhone X and the Animoji. If the TrueDepth system could be partially clogged, then an iPhone 8 or an iPhone 8 Plus that has an A11 Bionic chip should also be capable. Therefore, Apple would be cutting this feature artificially and on a whim, to drive interested users to the top model.
The Animoji continues to work despite covering part of the TrueDepth sensor, although over time its accuracy declines.
Doing tests on an iPhone X, any user will see that, indeed, the Animoji continue to work even though we cover the left part of the TrueDepth system. On this side is the infrared sensor, while on the right is the front camera of the iPhone X. If we cover this camera, the Animoji stops completely. Why does not the same thing happen with the infrared camera?
We can cover the infrared sensor on the iPhone X, but with the passing of the seconds the Animoji's precision drops
This is due to a difference in the operation of both sensors, as described in iMore:
The front camera constantly scans our face to replicate our gestures and movement, so that when we cover it the Animoji stops.
However, the infrared camera responsible for measuring depth and distance only does so from time to time. If we cover it we do not notice anything immediately, but with the passage of time the Animoji stops being so precise and worsens its reproduction
So yes, the iPhone X can show us Animoji without the TrueDepth system. But it stops being so reliable and loses part of its appeal.
It's about the user experience
All this is a matter of user experience. Apple has decided that the Animoji need the full TrueDepth system to offer a superior experience. As they say in iMore, Snapchat already had filters and masks that use the FaceTime camera to emulate our facial movements. But as soon as you add depth detection, it means a qualitative leap in reproduction.
The Animoji require the entire TrueDepth system to work perfectly
This situation is reminiscent of the one we experienced with video recording on the iPhone 3GS, where the first jailbreak and some apps later showed that the iPhone 3G was also capable of recording it. I remember it because that was my first iPhone, but I also remember that recording video in this terminal was a chestnut. Honestly, seeing that it worked so badly I was not surprised that the function did not exist.
There are other similar examples over the years where Apple has restricted the use of a feature to previous equipment because the hardware was not up to what the company wanted to offer. The Animoji on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are possible, but without the infrared camera the effect would not be so successful.
If Apple had allowed them, there would be Animoji first and second category, so it has chosen to restrict them.