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Apple's new iPhone software lets you create an animated digital version of yourself -- here's how it works

Key Points
  • Memoji in iOS 12 will let you create custom animated versions of yourself.
  • You'll pick your hair, eye color, eyebrows and more.
  • You can send these inside messages either as pictures or short video clips.
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The best new updates coming to your iPhone and iPad in iOS 12

A software update to the iPhone in the next few months lets you create a digital animated version of yourself that you can send to friends.

It's a custom version of Apple's Animoji called Memoji, and I've been trying it on the developer beta of iOS 12. It will eventually be available to the iPhone X and any future iPhones (or potentially iPads) that Apple may launch with a front-facing camera that's as advanced as the one on the iPhone X.

Note that this is a preview of Memoji for app makers to see and test it out. It might change before it launches in iOS 12 in the next couple of months.

Here's what it's like.

You'll start by tapping the Animoji button -- represented by a monkey icon -- at the bottom of your screen in a text message. Then you'll choose 'New Memoji.'

CNBC Tech: iOS 12 memoji guide

Next, you'll pick your skin color and add any freckles you might have.

CNBC Tech: iOS 12 memoji guide 2

Then it's time for the hairstyle. There's a lot to pick from, and you can adjust the color of your hair, too. There are no genders to pick from.

CNBC Tech: iOS 12 memoji guide 3

You'll pick your head shape next. Here, you can select if you have a younger or older looking face and how wide or narrow your chin is.

CNBC Tech: iOS 12 memoji guide 4

Eye color, shape and eyelash options are next. Here I've picked blue and left my eyes at the default shape, which seems closest to mine.

CNBC Tech: iOS 12 memoji guide 5

Now you'll pick your eyebrows. There are 24 different options. I went with a medium width.

CNBC Tech: iOS 12 memoji guide 6

You'll pick your nose size next --- there are only three options here -- and then lip size and color. I left these on the default options since they seem accurate.

CNBC Tech: iOS 12 memoji guide 7

Now you'll pick your ears -- again only three options -- and add earrings. You can pick different earring colors, too.

CNBC Tech: iOS 12 memoji guide 8

You can pick facial hair and sideburns in the next section. I don't have any of these, but there's a bunch of options to pick from.

CNBC Tech: iOS 12 memoji guide 9

You can add glasses and pick the color of your frames.

CNBC Tech: iOS 12 memoji guide 10

Or even choose colored lenses for sunglasses.

CNBC Tech: iOS 12 memoji guide 11

Finally, you can pick headwear and pick any color you like. A red top hat seems appropriate. Then you'll tap done.

CNBC Tech: iOS 12 memoji guide 12

To send your new Memoji, you'll select the same monkey icon in a message. Then you can make a face -- the front-facing camera will detect it and mimic it in the emoji -- and tap the Memoji to pop it into a message. You can also record a short video clip with audio.

CNBC Tech: iOS 12 memoji guide 13

You can make as many as you want and save them for future use!

CNBC Tech: iOS 12 memoji guide 14