Google Messages Support for iMessage Reactions Hits Beta

Posted on February 1, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Mobile, Android, iOS with 9 Comments

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.

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Comments (9)

9 responses to “Google Messages Support for iMessage Reactions Hits Beta”

  1. MadsM

    Appears to be language specific, as the strings Apple sends change according to locality. For instance it doesn't work in Danish.

    • wright_is

      Yes. that was my first thought as I looked at the image at the top of the article, that Goolge will probably need to have localisation for all supported languages, otherwise it won't work.

      Although, I suspect that outside the USA (and possibly the UK), it is less of a problem for the majority, as most countries have a much higher proportion of Android users, compared to iPhone users and in most countries, third party messaging apps, like Signal, WhatsApp or Telegram are used on both iPhone and Android.

      We have iPhones, but we communicate almost exclusively with Signal with our family and colleagues, here in Germany. A few of them use WhatsApp. I only use iMessage to communicate with my cousin in the UK, as they use WhatsApp and Facebook.

  2. cworeo

    Do you think they will bring this to Google Voice?

  3. mrlinux11

    Apple will either let them getting working and then change it keep breaking it or they will sue Google for patent infringment or both

  4. TomKer

    I sure hope it works. Not only does it "appear, painfully, as long text strings that quote the relevant message on Android", but if even one of the devices in a group chat is Android the whole chat gets spammed with that text string. Our family currently has 4 iOS and 1 Android. It makes for a messy discussion.

  5. crunchyfrog

    It certainly sounds great to be but I remember when Palm decided to have their phones work with syncing with iTunes. Yeah, that didn't last too long either-Apple broke it.