Childish Gambino Playmoji Makes Grammys Debut: How to Get It on Your Phone

The AR avatar stole the Grammys. Here's how to get it on your phone.

Last week saw the release of a new augmented reality character for the Google Pixel 3 phone — an animated Childish Gambino moving to his own music — and Sunday saw the dancing Donald Glover make his big debut via a Google commercial during the Grammys.

“Only on Pixel” is the tagline at the end of the commercial (watch it below), and the animated, dancing avatar (see it above) has been branded a “Playmoji” by Google. It’s the latest augmented reality feature in the Google Playground app that comes preloaded in the phone’s camera. When the Pixel 3 debuted in October, so did Playground, and that debut blog post from Google even included this tease: “…coming later this year, you’ll be able to sharpen your dance skills with moves from Childish Gambino.”

What Song Is in the Google Grammys Commercial?

The song in the Childish Gambino Google Grammys commercial is “Human Sacrifice,” an unreleased track. The songs that come with Playmoji, though, are “Redbone,” “Summertime Magic,” and “This Is America,” which won the 2019 Grammys for song and record of the year — becoming the first rap song to win the show’s top honors in the history of the awards show. In all, “This Is America” won four Grammys.

So, how do you get this — maybe the best use of phone-based augmented reality yet, better than even the AR tape measure nobody actually uses — on your phone?

How to Get Childish Gambino on Your Phone

You have to have a Google Pixel (any model will do; the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3, and Pixel 3 XL all have the Playground feature).

When or if you have a Pixel, you have Playground, and you have Childish Gambino:

  • Open up the camera
  • Swipe right on the menu until you see “More”
  • Select “Playground” from the menu
  • Click on the sticker icon of a smiling face
  • Click “Playmoji”
  • You’ll have the option to download the Childish Gambino Playmoji.

The Playmoji, which was released on February 5 and only got coverage from Google-centric sites like 9 to 5 Google, was the number one app in the Trending section of the Google Play store on Monday morning.

As for Glover, the history-making actor/rapper declined to attend or perform at the Grammys, making the 35-year-old’s Playmoji his only presence on Sunday night.

“I’m not sure where Donald is,” said “This Is America” engineer Riley Mackin backstage, reported the New York Daily News. He also said he saw him a few days earlier, but that he walked out of the studio and didn’t come back. “I haven’t seen him since,” Mackin said. ”I think everything Donald does is a little strange,” Mackin told the Daily News when asked if he thought the absence of Glover was strange.

Google’s promoting the hashtag #pixeldanceoff along with the new Playmoji, urging people to dance along. Google does make it look pretty fun.

Is It Better Than the Snapchat Dancing Hot Dog?

So, how good is this AR Childish Gambino? The Google Playground feature feels a lot like the true heir to the Snapchat dancing hot dog. High praise, yes; but I think it’s close. However, the relatively limited scope — it’s only available to people with a Pixel phone — may not make it as ubiquitous as the dancing hot dog that became a meme in the summer of 2017.

If dancing along with Gambino on a Monday in February is just too much to ask, you can always have the AR Glover keep you company.


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