Google is Going to Solve the iMessage Problem

Posted on November 22, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Android, iOS, Mobile with 24 Comments

Anyone with an Android phone who engages in text messaging with iPhone users has experienced the frustration of the weird ways in which iOS-based iMessage responses are translated into text. But since Apple will never fix this problem by making iMessage interoperate with the Rich Communication Services (RCS) standard, Google is finally doing something about it.

According to several independent reports, Google has tested and is now rolling out an update to its stock Messages app that will translate iMessage reactions as emoji, which is how they appear in Messages on iOS. So when someone with an iPhone likes a message, the Android user will just see a “Liked” emoji (a thumbs-up, I guess) instead of the text “[person] liked [message].” That latter and current style can be quite cumbersome since it quotes the entire liked message, and some can be quite long.

And yes, this update will also impact “Emphasized,” “Laughed,” and other iMessage reactions.

This change won’t solve all of the interoperability issues between iMessage and RCS, of course: iPhone users will continue to see green and blue message bubbles that differentiate between messages to/from Android and iPhone, users, respectively. But that’s on Apple. This will at least fix one of the more annoying things about messaging on the dominant mobile platform.

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Comments (24)

24 responses to “Google is Going to Solve the iMessage Problem”

  1. bbennett40

    ::shrug:: I don't mind the message. I can see how repeating the long messages could be annoying. Although, if they remove the quoted message, how will you know which message they responded to?

    • gregsedwards

      Presumably, the emoji will appear in line with the message. This is similar to how iMessage handles it. It'll be interesting to see if/how they handle Apple's personalized memojis.

  2. pgiftos

    Hopefully it will roll out to my phone soon!

  3. thretosix

    The moment someone sends "liked photo" or message. They will soon wonder if their texts are working.

  4. randallcorn

    Apple is not going to change. At best Apple might (not) make an android imessage app so we all work on the same platform. Why have a global standard? Apple gets away with making their own standard. You want iMessage? Buy an iPhone Apple says.

  5. proftheory

    One issue I've had with an iPhone user is that they would dictate a long message and when it would arrive on my Android phone the blocks of text would be out of order. So instead of getting them 1-2-3-4 I'd get then 2-1-4-3 and try and sort them out.


  6. LT1 Z51

    Or here's a follow up. If there is a standard (Bluetooth, SMS, etc) that has been on the market 5+ years regulate people to use it as specified in the standard (basically make it illegal to hack your own extensions onto it or change it). If you want to "make it better" you are forced to use a different name as to not dilute the standard implementation.


    I have this issue also with how Apple implements Bluetooth, they don't do it right.

    • MikeCerm

      Hacking new extensions onto a standard is how progress is made. It's how TV went from B/W to color. It's how we're able to listen use high-quality codecs like AptX, LDAC, AAC, etc., over Bluetooth rather than simply using SBC, which sounds like crap. A standard sets a minimum floor for compatibility. It should not set a ceiling above which no one can innovate.

  7. MikeCerm

    This may solve an iMessage problem but not *the* iMessage problem. If Google wanted to fix the real iMessage problem, they would build Messages into a full-featured messaging app that rivals iMessage, make it available on iPhone, and then Market the crap out of it as an alternative to WhatsApp and Telegram, and the best option for cross-platform messaging. Though they can never be the default messaging app for iPhone users, they could make a compelling alternative for iPhone users who want an iMessage-like experience when texting their Android friends.

    • jason_e

      I don't see this as an iMessage problem. I see it as an Android problem. As an iOS user it does not bother me how it looks on an Android phone. I know that my not be right but it is the way it is. And at least Apple builds upon what they have instead of starting over every other year. What if Apple does what it needs to work with Android phones and then Google decides to change again.

    • winner

      It's not Google's fault that Apple wants to limit proper messaging behavior to its own walled garden, and refuses to interoperate with standards like RCS.

      • MikeCerm

        I didn't say it was Google's fault, but Google could "solve the iMessage problem" by building a competitive service that draws users out of Apple's walled garden and into one that interoperates with iOS and Android. You don't solve the problem by blaming Apple for not giving up their superior product that lock's users into their walled garden in favor of a poorly defined and inferior standard, you actually solve the problem by building something better, and offering it to iPhone users. Unfortunately, because of who Google is, a substantial portion of iOS users would actively avoid a messaging service built by Google. (In spite of the fact that a lot of those users probably do use Gmail.)

  8. ebraiter

    This should of been the top headline for all major news outlets. :-)

  9. casualadventurer

    Anyone ever try SMS Organizer by Microsoft?

    • sjpena

      Thanks for the suggestion - just downloaded it. I've been using the Android/Google Messages (after using Samsung app since I thought I needed that to get messages on my Samsung watch). Wasn't entirely happy with either SMS app. So far, I like the SMS Organizer. The setup has options I like so I'm going to try it.

  10. casualadventurer

    I've never noticed this behavior. My friends and family have iPhones and I an Android, and all icons, emoticons, GIFs and thumbs ups always show up just fine. But what I really appreciate is that this article brought to my attention that I am using the Google messaging app. Due to my distaste for Googles privacy policies I need to start looking for a replacement app...

    • wright_is

      I set up a new phone yesterday and looked at transferring the SMS messages. In total, there were 2 that weren't account confirmation or security tokens, from the last 4 years. In the end, I didn't bother transferring them to the new device.


      I don't actually know anyone with an iPhone who uses iMessage, so I've never seen how the messages appear on my Galaxy.

  11. rm

    How getting group text messages to work better. Like not making a group appear to be a new group on phones just because you add or remove someone from the group.

    • wright_is

      Or use a cross-platform chat app that deals with groups properly, like Signal, Threema, Telegram or WhatsApp?


      Even though most people here have an SMS flat rate, I've only received 2 personal SMS over the last 4 years, everything else came over Signal or Telegram.

  12. jimchamplin

    They could have simply stripped those extraneous bits and not made me have to receive all those useless extra notifications.


    That would have been nice.

  13. christianwilson

    The funniest thing about this is if Apple does nothing, Android users will no longer receive the "[person] [reaction] [message]" responses to reactions, but in a group text, iOS users will still see those messages when another iOS user sends a reaction.


    I love the reaction feature and use it in iMessage, Slack, etc. because it is a good way to acknowledge a message quickly when a conversation isn't required. It's not appropriate in every situation, but it is handy. I avoid using it with Android users because I don't want to annoy them with the current formatted response.

  14. LT1 Z51

    How about the reverse? When Android users laugh at an iOS message I see the same thing (it's not an emoji)

  15. kjb434

    I would love the ability to block those iOS type of messages. I guess translating them is good for now. Hopefully Google will make this ability not app specific so third party messaging apps can do this.

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