Bitmojis, GIFs & Apps to Try This Summer

In the 115th episode, members of the team discuss the surprising benefits of Bitmojis and how to impress your friends by sending messages with GIFs. Other topics include summer apps you won't want to miss!

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This episode was brought to you by STM. If you’re looking for the ultimate in military-grade protection for your XR, XS, or XS Max, then you need to check out the Black OPS Elite from Element Case.

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Question of the week:

Do you have a Bitmoji and can we see it? Email to share them with us. 

And as promised: David, Sarah, and Donna in Bitmoji form!

Articles referred to in this episode:

Apps referred to in this episode:

Useful links:

Transcript of episode 115:

Donna Cleveland:          Hi and welcome to Episode 115 of the iPhone Life Podcast. I'm Donna Cleveland, Editor-in-Chief at iPhone Life.

David Averbach:            I'm David Averbach, CEO and Publisher.

Sarah Kingsbury:           And I'm Sarah Kingsbury, Senior Web Editor.

Donna Cleveland:          Each episode we bring to you the best apps, top tips, and great gear in the IOS world and our mission is to help you never feel frustrated with your iPhone again. So this episode we want to start out with a message from our sponsor.

David Averbach:            Yeah, today's sponsor is STM and I want to tell you about the Element Case Black OPS. It's a really cool case. If you want something that's heavy duty protective, this is a really great case to check out. It's really unique looking, really cool looking and they use ... I'm looking this up because the very technical terms here ... They have a CNC machined G10, which is military grade glass composite and then they have aircraft grade aluminum. So this is really high quality materials, really protective, great drop protection, looks great. Make sure you check it out, we'll have a link. Again, that's the STM Black OPS, STM and it's Element Case actually, so Element Case Black OPS and we'll link to it at or you can go to Element Case and check that out.

Donna Cleveland:          I also want to take a minute to tell you about our daily tips newsletter. If you go to, you can sign up for our free offering. This is a great way if you're just getting acquainted with iPhone Life and don't know that much about us, this is our free offering. We send you a one minute video, no sorry, we send you a one minute tip, not a video, every day that teaches you something cool you can do with your iPhone, and so it's a really low commitment way to improve your iPhone skills. So is where you go to sign up for that.

Donna Cleveland:          Our favorite tip this week that I want to share with you is how to find and send GIFs from the messages app on your iPhone. So a couple of IOSs back, Apple made this really easy. There is now an iMessage app store that shows up above your keyboard in the messages app. So if you open the messages app, start a text thread or navigate to a existing text thread, when you go to type you'll see a little scrolling list of icons above your keyboard. So you just tap on that and you can scroll to the side, find one, it's bright pink and it says images. So you'll tap that and then you can search for basically the sort of emotion that you want to send, and GIFs, and then you'll get a bunch of GIFs that match that. So GIFs are moving images, so if people are sending you funny memes and things like that, that are like ... Can you guys give an example of what a GIF is, in case I'm ...

David Averbach:            Yeah, I mean you basically just kind of-

Donna Cleveland:          Botching this.

David Averbach:            Yeah, it's a moving image and people tend to use it to send pop culture references, funny captions. And it's like if you want to just be ... I use them a lot.

Donna Cleveland:          David's a GIF guy, yeah.

Sarah Kingsbury:           He really is.

David Averbach:            If you want to ... because there's so many situations where somebody will say something and you can be like cool or okay but like it's-

Donna Cleveland:          How boring as that.

David Averbach:            Yeah, it's more fun to go find a GIF of a pop culture thing of somebody being like okay or cool or whatever emotion you're trying to describe. I feel like emojis sometimes don't quite cut it and GIFs really do.

Donna Cleveland:          I'm trying to think of what are some of the iconic GIFs, or ones that you see all the time, I don't know. A lot of times, if it's like a movie that everybody knows, it'll be one of the characters saying or doing something funny.

David Averbach:            I love Seinfeld, so I send a lot of Seinfeld GIFs.

Donna Cleveland:          Yeah, Seinfeld, yeah. So that's a super easy way, there are also third party apps because images is like Apple's GIF version but it's not the best one. Isn't Giphy Cam what you use?

David Averbach:            I actually do use Apple's now, just because it's built in and it's easy, but Giphy is pretty good, it's G-I-P-H-Y. I think you have to download the app first, I'm not sure exactly. But yeah, that one is another, that's kind of the most popular one other than Apple's built in one.

Donna Cleveland:          So if you use a third party one, you have to download the app and then in the iMessage, where I told you to go get the images one, if you scroll all the way over to the side and tap the three dots was it, Sarah?

Sarah Kingsbury:           Yeah, it says more.

Donna Cleveland:          From there you can choose ...

Sarah Kingsbury:           You'd get a list of all the app extensions that are already available in messages and then other ones you have as an option. And if you tap edit, then there'll be reds, delete ones, next to the ones that are there and green plus ones if you want to add them. And so you can just find the Giphy one and add it.

David Averbach:            And this is incidentally where you would be able to attach photos too, I know that's confusing because Apple moved it. If you want to take a photo, there's a camera icon, but if you want to attach a photo that you already took, it would be right down in this little app store section, the text message. Also, you can do Bitmoji. Do you guys do Bitmoji? I know you do.

Donna Cleveland:          I used to. I haven't recently, but yeah. Everyone should have a Bitmoji.

David Averbach:            I go through phases. Sometimes I have Bitmoji and sometimes I get bored with it.

Sarah Kingsbury:           I have really enjoyed, I mean I don't really Snapchat much, but every once in awhile I've had entire Bitmoji conversations because they have all these kind of suggestions and you just send them back and forth and some of them are kind of weird.

David Averbach:            What's cool about Bitmoji-

Donna Cleveland:          So, let's explain what Bitmoji is.

David Averbach:            Yeah. Okay. So Bitmoji, it's very much like an emoji where you can create, it's called an avatar, but it's like a cartoon version of yourself and you can style it like you, so you have your hair and your eye color and everything like that, you have an outfit for it. And then they tend to, similar to a GIF, they'll have all these funny captions, so it'll be this little avatar of you doing silly things, holding up signs or having little captions. And so you can send that and it's just a silly way to do it. The app is called Bitmoji, B-I-T-M-O-J-I. And so, yeah, that's what Bitmoji is. And what's fun about Snapchat too is you can, if the other person has-

Donna Cleveland:          It's integrated.

David Averbach:            It's integrated into Snapchat and if the other person has a Bitmoji, you can send Bitmojis with you and that character doing silly things.

Sarah Kingsbury:           Yeah.

David Averbach:            You're like, "Oh, I know."

Sarah Kingsbury:           That's why I tend to use Bitmoji in it.

David Averbach:            Yeah.

Sarah Kingsbury:           Because it's a fun way to torture my daughters because they're these ridiculous Bitmoji things and I can be like, "Look, here's us doing this Bitmoji thing together." And they're just like, "Mom, stop."

David Averbach:            Maybe-

Donna Cleveland:          I need to get on on Snapchat. I just figured I was too old.

David Averbach:            Yeah, I feel too old for Snapchat too. I'm an Instagramer now.

Sarah Kingsbury:           All the filters can be fun too.

David Averbach:            I also feel like, and maybe this is me, but I feel GIFs are kind of cool and Bitmojis are just not cool. They're just dorky.

Donna Cleveland:          Yeah, you're embracing the fact that you're a huge dork, but it's fine.

Sarah Kingsbury:           Yeah, you have to-

David Averbach:            Which we've all embraced.

Donna Cleveland:          Yeah.

Sarah Kingsbury:           You have to really commit to the uncoolness of the Bitmoji so hard that you become cool.

David Averbach:            Can we make this our question of the week? Do you have a Bitmoji and can we see it?

Donna Cleveland:          Email

David Averbach:            And make sure you send a real photo too so we can compare. I know [Mark Connolly 00:00:07:26] is all about the Bitmojis.

Donna Cleveland:          He posts them on Facebook quite a bit?

David Averbach:            Yes, a lot.

Donna Cleveland:          All right, so our daily tip is our free offering. We also have our premium subscription and this is for people who really want to master their iPhones, iPads, and other IOS devices. We also cover AirPods and HomePods and things like that, so we are the ultimate educational resource for you if you're into Apple stuff. We have access to our digital subscription of our magazine and you get full access to our full archive of over 30 issues. You get video guides, we're coming out with our IOS 13 guide, so you'll be the first to know how to use all the exciting new features.

Donna Cleveland:          You also get an exclusive version of our podcast where we have exclusive content and no ads and also Ask an Editor, a feature where you can email in your questions if you're having a tech problem and we'll help guide you to a solution so you never get stuck. And there are more features now that are alluding me right now, but if you go to, you get $5 off your annual subscription just for being a podcast listener. So we hope you check it out.

Donna Cleveland:          We now want to have Sarah tell us an insider question that she helped answer this week.

Sarah Kingsbury:           I have a couple because they're short.

Donna Cleveland:          Okay, cool, let's hear it.

Sarah Kingsbury:           One is related to the GIFs that we were just talking about. Someone wanted know how to delete them once you've selected them but you decide you don't want to send it. And it's actually pretty simple. There's a little X at the top right corner and if you tap that it will be deleted. Also with GIFs, if you decide you don't like that one and you go select a different one, it will replace it, which is annoying because you can't send two GIFs at once.

Donna Cleveland:          [inaudible 00:09:18]

David Averbach:            I always go and manually delete it before selecting another one, I never knew. Because one of the things that drives me crazy is when you're in the text app and you select a GIF, sometimes the images are too little to read the text and so you're trying to figure out what it says and you have to pull it up to read it first.

Sarah Kingsbury:           Yeah, and then you're like, "Nah."

Donna Cleveland:          And it is nice to know too, in case you didn't know, that once you tap it when you've found one, it just loads in like a little preview box, it doesn't automatically send. So you do have a chance to preview it before committing to sending it.

David Averbach:            But in Facebook messenger, it automatically sends.

Donna Cleveland:          Ah, hate that.

David Averbach:            I've sometimes sent weird ones by accident.

Donna Cleveland:          That sounds so awkward for you.

David Averbach:            Yeah, I'm an awkward person.

Sarah Kingsbury:           And so-

Donna Cleveland:          I feel like we're just telling people all the ways to be awkward-

David Averbach:            And dorky.

Donna Cleveland:          ... by sending Bitmojis, yeah.

Sarah Kingsbury:           Bitmojis are great, I have to change mine because my hair color has changed. The second one also has to do with messages, which is how do you add a number that texted you to your contacts? So if someone texts you and you don't have them in your contacts already, how do you add that from the message conversation? So you can tap their, well it's not really going to ... it's just going to be the number at the top because there won't be a little contact icon there. So you tap the number at the top. I'm just going to have to walk myself through this even though I know how to do this. And then tap info and then tap the number again.

David Averbach:            It's annoyingly a few too many steps, I just went through this yesterday.

Sarah Kingsbury:           It really, really is, yes. And then you tap edit, actually no you don't, then you tap add to contacts.

David Averbach:            Yeah, or create new contact.

Sarah Kingsbury:           Yes, that is the correct one, create a new contact or you can add it to an existing contact and that's how you do it.

Donna Cleveland:          Cool.

Sarah Kingsbury:           Short and sweet, but important.

Donna Cleveland:          Were there any other insider questions you wanted to answer? Or those were them?

Sarah Kingsbury:           I feel like two was enough.

Donna Cleveland:          Yeah, that makes sense.

David Averbach:            You did great, Sarah.

Donna Cleveland:          Yeah, you did, you did. So next we have our Apps in Gear section, I was just a little distracted because I was trying to remember if I already told you guys about StoryCorps, in which case I'll tell you about something else.

David Averbach:            I mean, it's hard to say because you've told me about it, I just don't know if we recorded that conversation.

Donna Cleveland:          I couldn't find it in recent podcast notes.

David Averbach:            Tell us about it.

Donna Cleveland:          Okay. It was recently my grandma's 90th birthday. Is this ringing a bell already?

David Averbach:            Well yeah because you told me.

Donna Cleveland:          Okay. And I've decided I want to interview family members and have audio versions of that and also just to have those types of conversations with family members where you're getting to know them in a different way than you would with a regular conversation and that's what StoryCorps is all about. They have a database, like people can upload family interviews and so it's sort of just like a history of ordinary people that you can access through their archive there, or you can just use their resources without uploading them, which is what I'm doing because I just want them for my personal use. But the StoryCorps app it has questions based on the type of person you're interviewing, like ones for grandparents, ones for people who have been at different historic moments, like they had one for the Stonewall ...

Sarah Kingsbury:           Stonewall riots?

Donna Cleveland:          Yeah, riots, and things like that. And so I went and looked at questions for grandparents and kind of customized what I wanted to ask.

David Averbach:            That's so cool.

Donna Cleveland:          And ones that will be about relationships, like the types of questions you might want to ask about that or biggest life lessons, things like that. And it's just nice because coming up with ideas on your own can be sort of daunting and so it'll load your questions for you and has a nice view where you can swipe through the questions as you're recording the interview through the app, or you can record just using voice memos or whatever you want. But it's a nicely designed app and I think it's just a cool idea. I think it's always nice ... I basically had a realization that you can spend a lot of time with family and feel extremely familiar with them and comfortable with them, but you might actually not know that much about them and what they think about things and what their life experiences have been. At least for me, that's been the case, so it's something I recommend trying it out.

David Averbach:            Yeah. And I haven't used it, but one of the things I like is, even if you have that realization, it's kind of hard to know where to start, so having a formal process helps and also I feel like you can feel a little cheesy being like, "Grandma, tell me the biggest lesson you've learned in life," but if you have it and be like, "The app is telling me to ask you this," it gives you an excuse.

Sarah Kingsbury:           Also, sometimes some questions, if you come up with it yourself, they're a little bit loaded.

David Averbach:            Yeah, totally.

Sarah Kingsbury:           Whereas if it's just like, "Well this is just what the app says, I have no agenda in asking you this question beyond this cool app."

David Averbach:            Yeah.

Donna Cleveland:          I did have to scale back because they didn't pull any punches with the questions. They're like, "What's your biggest life regret?" Just stuff like that that I'm like, "I don't know that I would feel comfortable asking that."

David Averbach:            But I feel like you want to hear those.

Donna Cleveland:          Yeah. And I think a nice strategy is to start with the layup questions and that will kind of warm them up and make them feel like, "Oh, this isn't a big deal. This isn't scary," and end with the zingers.

Sarah Kingsbury:           Are you plying them with alcohol at the same time?

Donna Cleveland:          Yeah, and also give them the option just to say, "I don't want to answer that," or "I don't know," you know? And just let them know that there's no right or wrong way to do it. But yeah, that was cool.

Sarah Kingsbury:           That sounds really cool.

David Averbach:            I can go next.

Donna Cleveland:          Let's hear about it.

David Averbach:            So I keep talking about this trip I just went on, I just went out to California and we went to Disneyland. And I was so impressed by Disneyland's app.

Donna Cleveland:          Really?

David Averbach:            I have to say, because I feel like so many times when you do things like that, there's always an app and it's always terrible and useless. And this was the opposite of that experience. I feel like [inaudible 00:15:25] app is a good example of a pretty useless app. Whereas this one, so first of all, you can get something called MaxPass, I'm going to tell you about it both because if you ever go Disneyland or Disney World definitely get this app. Second of all, it's just kind of cool to hear about because I feel like Disney's kind of out ahead of people on this and this is sort of where the apps are moving for events and different types of attractions.

Donna Cleveland:          And didn't use say with this app it kind of made the difference between a fun trip and one that could have been hellish?

David Averbach:            Absolutely. Everybody talks about Disneyland as being this hellish experience where the kids are crying and everyone's fighting, and we had such a smooth trip-

Donna Cleveland:          Hours of lines.

David Averbach:            Yeah, hours of lines. So that's the best part is you get something called MaxPass, you have to pay an extra $15 per person, which is expensive, but Disneyland's expensive. And what it does is it lets you schedule rides so you don't have to wait in line.

Donna Cleveland:          That's awesome.

David Averbach:            And it's most of the most popular rides you can do this on, like Space Mountain and the new Star Wars rides and you just schedule the ride, you show up, it gives you an hour gap period to show up. So you just show up and the lines for the scheduled were like you basically just walked right in and you didn't have to wait in line, which is amazing.

Donna Cleveland:          That's really cool.

Sarah Kingsbury:           I've always thought if there is a hell, it basically consists of standing in line forever. That's how much I hate standing in line.

David Averbach:            Really, and like huge crowds in intense heat.

Sarah Kingsbury:           Yeah and that's why I've always been like, "I will never ever go to Disneyland or Disney World."

David Averbach:            Well now maybe you can.

Sarah Kingsbury:           Yeah, I have to rethink my stance on that.

David Averbach:            It also lets you order food so you order the food and you just show up and they just hand you the food and you don't have to wait in line for food. And the other thing it did that was cool was it, as part of the MaxPass that you had to pay extra for, was you could take photos, there's photographers all over Disneyland and they try to like upsell you all these photos, but if you have this it'll automatically load them into the app for you for free.

Donna Cleveland:          Oh, that's cool.

Sarah Kingsbury:           Oh, nice.

David Averbach:            And so we took photos with Mickey and we had photos on Space Mountain and they'd all just load it in right here.

Donna Cleveland:          Did you have to pay for them?

David Averbach:            No, I mean you had to pay extra for the MaxPass but you could ... So it was really cool. And the map, I mean this is an obvious feature, but the map worked well. I feel like sometimes it'll show you a map but it won't show you where you are relative to it-

Donna Cleveland:          Like the CES app?

David Averbach:            ... and how to get to it. Yes, exactly. And so that worked well. I could always navigate around Disneyland and so we didn't get lost and we didn't have to wait in lines and we ordered our food. It was pretty awesome.

Donna Cleveland:          Awesome.

Sarah Kingsbury:           That's really awesome. So for my app this week, I wanted to return to one I brought up a few episodes ago called Luminary and it's the new podcast app because I've been using it and I said that I would share my experiences with it. So basically it sucks.

Donna Cleveland:          Oh no.

David Averbach:            Oh no.

Sarah Kingsbury:           I mean, I purposely got it and subscribed to the premium thing for the purpose of listening to one single podcast and I really like that podcast, but that has nothing to do with the app. The app itself, it doesn't have ... Like all of the other podcasts that I listen to, everything is really slow, the UI is just ... I have to tap so many buttons to get to my show and there's so many better podcast apps. I don't know why you would use this one unless you just were desperate to listen to an exclusive podcast and I'm really not interested in the other ones. And I'm starting to wonder, even though I love this podcast, is it really worth even dealing with this app just to listen to this one podcast?

David Averbach:            And you have to pay for it, right?

Sarah Kingsbury:           It averages out to $2 an episode, which I certainly pay more for coffee like multiple times a week.

David Averbach:            And if it's a great podcast ...

Sarah Kingsbury:           And I feel like people should get paid for their work and it's not a small amount of work to make a podcast. So I'm okay with that part. If I liked a lot of the other exclusive content podcasts, I think it would be a great deal. But it still is just really an annoying app to use.

David Averbach:            It's 9.99 a month?

Sarah Kingsbury:           7.99.

David Averbach:            7.99 a month. I have to say, I mean, I'm disappointed to hear that the app isn't good, I'm kind of disappointed in the direction that podcasts are going with Spotify buying Gimlet Media, I think we talked about this before, right? Gimlet makes Reply All-

Donna Cleveland:          A lot of good ones.

David Averbach:            They got really great podcasts. Spotify bought it and I think we're moving in the direction of, similar to like Netflix and other services like that, of kind of exclusive content for different podcast providers and you're going to end up having to, just like we have to subscribe to Netflix and Amazon Prime and HBO GO, like subscribe to different services to hear the podcast you want. And we're kind of in the golden age now where like any podcast is available for free in the Apple Podcast app and I'm sad that those days might be ending.

Sarah Kingsbury:           Yeah, I mean I'm fine with maybe subscribing to a service to listen to podcasts but-

David Averbach:            Not this one.

Sarah Kingsbury:           Well, no, but also I don't want to have to subscribe to multiple ones, one, because there's just a limit to how many subscriptions I want, but also because I listen to podcasts in the car or when I'm out for a walk and other times when switching between apps is really not great. And like in the Apple Podcast app, I have a driving station set up with apps that I've selected to be in that station and they're set to the five most recent ones, delete them after they've played, play them in this order, you know? And having to do that with a whole bunch and switch back and forth between apps would be really annoying.

David Averbach:            Yeah, I think those days are coming.

Donna Cleveland:          Yeah, I know. It's going to be like dealing with the TV subscriptions, like we have Netflix and Hulu. But Luminary seems like right now, not that appealing just because it doesn't sound like it has that many shows, but if it had a bunch that you loved and they're all behind a paywall and other options also are behind a paywall, I think eventually they could get people to start paying.

Sarah Kingsbury:           And if the app-

Donna Cleveland:          Right now it's kind of a tough proposition.

Sarah Kingsbury:           Just as an app itself, it's just not that user friendly.

David Averbach:            I do agree with you that I fundamentally am okay with paying for content that I like, including podcasts, it's just the fragmentation that is scaring me.

Donna Cleveland:          It sucks, yeah, I agree.

Sarah Kingsbury:           Yeah. So that's my take on the Luminary app.

Donna Cleveland:          Okay, so just as a reminder, our question of the week is, do you use Bitmoji and if so, can you send us your Bitmojis? Send us a picture of your Bitmoji and a picture of you if you feel like it too so we can see who has the best one and rate it on the next episode. So you can send that to

David Averbach:            And let us know if it's okay for us to share those. Also go to [inaudible 00:22:08] and we will share ours.

Donna Cleveland:          Yeah, you mean

David Averbach:            Yeah, don't go to podcast ... I don't even know.

Donna Cleveland:          Yeah, is where we have the blog posts for each episode and so we'll post our Bitmojis there for you to see. So all right, we'll see you next in a couple of weeks.

Sarah Kingsbury:           Thanks everyone.

Donna Cleveland:          Thanks.

David Averbach:            Thanks everyone.

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Author Details

Sarah Kingsbury's picture

Author Details

Sarah Kingsbury

As the Editorial Director at iPhone Life, Sarah Kingsbury manages the online editorial team and oversees all website content. She is a long-time Apple enthusiast who never goes anywhere without her Apple Watch and owns way too many HomePods. Since joining iPhone Life in 2013, Sarah has done everything from writing hundreds of how-to articles to founding the Daily Tip newsletter. She even co-hosted the early episodes of the iPhone Life Podcast. When not at work, Sarah can be found hiking in the mountains and canyons around Las Vegas, where she lives with her partner and dogs.