Google would like Apple to support the RCS messaging standard. But since that will never happen, it has a Plan B: support Apple’s proprietary iMessage features in its Messages app for Android.
Google has been increasingly vocal about its disdain for Apple’s iMessage and how the firm’s proprietary ways hurt communication. But it also separately that it would take steps to add support for proprietary iMessage features in its Messages app for Android. And that, apparently, is finally happening.
According to multiple reports, Google has updated its Messages app to support iMessage “Tapback expressions,” which most people think of as reactions. These are things like a thumbs-up or heart, which appear graphically on iPhones, but appear, painfully, as long text strings that quote the relevant message on Android. (Such as “Laughed at ‘[whatever the previous message said]’.”
To make this iMessage feature work similarly via SMS/MMS in Message, Google converts them to emojis, as one would expect. To get this feature now, you need to be using the beta version of Google Messages. Presumably, it will roll out more broadly soon.