Wombo uses AI to make your selfies sing — and it’s hilarious

Wombo AI-powered lip-sync app
(Image credit: Wombo)

If you've ever wondered what Vladimir Putin singing Vengaboys' Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom! would look like, this new deepfake-style lip-syncing app will show you.

Wombo uses AI to animate photos so it appears they're singing along to one of 18 pop hits. Though designed for selfies, the app has gone viral over the past few days as users realized the comic potential in uploading photos of famous people and making them sing along to entirely unsuitable material.

It works in a similar way to the Deep Nostalgia tool released by the online genealogy company MyHeritage last month: you upload a photo and the app uses AI to animate it in a fairly convincing manner. The extra step here is that it also pairs the animation with a song of your choice, so that the photo appears to be singing along.

The songs on offer range from Michael Jackson's classic Thriller to Rick Astley's slightly less classic Never Gonna Give You Up. And much of the fun lies in matching the right song to the right (or wrong) person.

What's more, the AI works on anything that even vaguely looks like a face. We've tried it on a Labrador puppy, a cuddly toy and even our car, with varying degrees of success.

The app was created by Wombo CEO Ben-Zion Benkhin, who told The Verge he came up with the idea “while smoking a joint with my roommate on the roof.” 

It launched in Canada in February and has since been downloaded on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store more than 2 million times.

It's free to use, supported by the occasional advert popping up, but a Premium version is available for $4.99/month. This removes the ads and gives you faster processing.

Benkhin is adamant that users’ data is safe, telling The Verge, “We take privacy really seriously. All the data gets deleted and we don’t share it or send it to anyone else.”

If you fancy giving it a go yourself, scroll down to find out how it works.

How to use Wombo to make a photo lip-sync to a song

1. Download the Wombo app from either the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

2. Open the app and click the big yellow Let's go! button.

3. Next, you have a couple of options. Wombo will immediately open the camera app and prompt you to take a selfie. It provides a silhouette so you can position yourself in the frame correctly, and suggests that you look directly at the camera and don't show your teeth. If you want to take this approach, press the camera button when you're ready.

4. If you'd rather use an existing photo (of yourself or someone else), you can press the folder icon to the left of the camera button, then upload an image from your device.

5. Alternatively, you can press the reverse icon to the right of the camera button, and use your device's rear lens to capture your subject. Just make sure you have their permission to do so.

6. Next you'll see the Crop screen. Here you can resize the crop box around the subject so it removes any unwanted objects on the periphery. The Scale slider below the image will let you zoom in or out, and if you press the Rotate icon on the bottom left of the app, you'll be able to change the angle of the image. When you're happy, press the tick in the top-right corner.

7. Press the green W icon below your picture — or if you've changed your mind, press back and try again.

8. Now it's time to choose your tune. The 18 available songs span a wide range of genres and eras, so there's likely to be at least one you're happy with. Plus, Benkhin says he plans to expand the options soon.

9. As you press each song, you'll hear a snippet of it play, so you can decide if it works. If it does, press the green W icon again.

10. Wombo will now work its AI-powered magic on the image, while telling you it is "Transmitting particles through radio waves" and "Uploading psychic connection to the reality plane." It isn't.

11. Finally, the app will serve up your finished video. You'll have the option to save it to your device (as an mp4 file), share it with a friend via any of the usual options (social media, WhatsApp, email and so on) or try again with another image.

Marc McLaren

Formerly Editor in Chief (U.K.) on Tom’s Guide, Marc oversaw all gaming, streaming, audio, TV, entertainment, how-to and cameras coverage, and was also responsible for the site’s U.K.-focused output. He is now U.K. Editor in Chief on TechRadar. Marc previously edited the tech website Stuff and has tested and written about phones, tablets, wearables, streaming boxes, smart home devices, Bluetooth speakers, headphones, games, TVs, cameras and much more. He also spent years on a music magazine, where his duties mainly involved spoiling other people’s fun, and on a car magazine. An avid photographer, he likes nothing better than taking pictures of very small things (bugs, his daughters) or very big things (distant galaxies). When he gets time, he also enjoys gaming (console and mobile), cycling and attempting to watch as much sport as any human can. He's also fallen in love with Wordle over the past six months and is the author of our today's Wordle answer column, in which he supplies hints and strategy tips for the mega-popular word game. Given he's completed every single Wordle so far and only lost once, and analyzed every Wordle answer in search of patterns, he's well qualified to help you safeguard your streak.