iMessage users on iOS and macOS can add reactions, such as a laugh, thumbs up or down, a question mark, and other reactions, which show up as an annotation in an iMessage. While those reactions can be used to react to a “green bubble” message from an Android user, but Android doesn’t currently interpret them correctly.
While a thumbs-up reaction on an iPhone shows properly on another iPhone user’s device. However, on an Android device, the reaction will be displayed as text, then show the text of the message.
9to5Google examined the code in the latest beta update to Google Messages and discovered that rather than showing iMessage reactions as text, Google Messages may soon translate them into emoji.
“Show iPhone reactions as emoji,” reads a line of the code, under the “ios_reaction_classification.”
For now, it’s not clear exactly how this “classification” would work, but one would imagine Google Messages would spot incoming messages that start with something like “Liked” and try to match it to a previous message. Once it’s figured out what message is being reacted to, perhaps Google Message will hide the incoming iMessage fallback and instead show an emoji under the original message.
That said, iMessage has a different set of reactions than currently offered by Google Messages in RCS chats. Google may be accounting for this, as there is mention in the code of “mapping” the iMessage reactions, possibly mapping to the set of reactions available in Google Messages today, or perhaps just mapping to various emoji.
At this point, we don’t know if Google will ultimately decide to put this change in the release version. However, if they do implement it, things will certainly be better for texting on multiple platforms.