There’s been a lot of Snapchat-copying going on in the tech world lately, with Facebook being one of the main culprits.
But the social media giant isn’t alone. Another tech juggernaut appears to be cribbing from the ephemeral messaging app, as well. On Monday, Apple was granted a patent for an “avatar editing environment” that looks a lot like Bitmoji, the popular app from Snapchat-owned Bitstrips.
The patent document, which was first picked up by Mic, says this theoretical product would allow users to create custom avatars for “online games and other applications.” Starting with a blank face, users can add, rescale and resize features like eyes, a nose and a mouth. They can also modify face shapes and skin color and will be able to choose whether to create the avatar automatically or manually.
You can see from the screenshots below how alike the patent is to Bitmoji:
As you can see, the resemblance is pretty real. And if you’re thinking what we’re thinking, yes, it is a little ridiculous that in this emoji-ridden day and age, avatar editing environments can still be patented. Bitmoji, after all, isn’t an entirely new concept. Avatar creations have been around for ages. Remember Yahoo Avatar?
To be fair, Apple filed this patent in 2011, long before Snapchat acquired Bitstrips. But it’s hard not to scream copycat when much of the functionality seems so similar to Bitmoji.
Apple patents don’t always come to fruition though, so this could very well be another patent stashed away at the bottom of some storage space at Apple HQ.