Google’s Messages app for Android will soon get a feature straight from Apple’s iMessage – the ability to add emoji reactions to the messages in a conversation.
Apparently available only on a few select devices, for now, the update to Messages was spotted by Reddit user rwinftw, who saw the new capability appear on the Messages beta while using a OnePlus 7 Pro.
In iMessage, this feature is called Tapback. Tap and hold a message you’ve received, and reactions will show up, allowing you to attach an emoji to that message to express how you feel about it.
This probably isn’t the only place you’ve seen reaction emoji, either – it’s a feature available on Facebook Messenger, Twitter direct messages, and many other chat apps.
Google’s version of Tapback appears to work similarly, including common reactions like thumbs up and smiley faces.
It’s a sensible addition, as reactions are becoming popular ways of quickly responding to posts, especially when you may not have time to type out a full message of your own.
What About Compatibility?
For now, the new feature appears to be available only on RCS, not SMS-only conversations. Like many other versions, it’s activated by a long press on a message or photo.
But what happens if one of your friends gets this feature but you don’t have it? Well, it looks like when you chat with a friend, and they use the feature, instead of showing the reaction on your version of Messages, it will send a separate message saying, “Hey, your friend just used this emoji on the above post,” so you’ll still get to see what they chose. However, since it’s RCS-only, it’s unlikely the feature will work between iMessages and Android Messages, at least for now.
So far, there’s no official word from Google on when the reactions will be rolling out to all users. For now, it looks like the select few with the ability are part of a limited test on Messages Beta to make sure the feature is working correctly. If the test goes well, expect the ability to be widely available on all Android phones, as well as desktop versions of the app.