Friday, September 30

Google Just Fixed This Big iMessage Frustration on Android

Google has finally issued a fix when messaging between Google Messages on Android and Apple iMessage that subverts annoying repeated reaction texts. Beta users testing the solution will no longer be presented with repeated text that may say, “I loved it: ‘let’s meet for lunch.’” Instead, Android users will see the appropriate emoji along with the message.

This solution was first noticed by 9to5Google. iMessage reactions, known as Tapbacks, will appear as little emojis in Google Messages. Beta users will have it enabled by default, but the feature can be toggled in advanced settings to enable “Show iPhone reactions as emoji.” Below is a screenshot from 9to5Google.

(Image credit: 9to5Google)

iMessage is a web-based end-to-end encrypted messaging service that is exclusive to Apple devices. As such, Apple users can interact with each other in richer ways by adding Tapbacks, which are like little reactions to a specific message. For example, iMessage users can “comment” on a message they like, or “thumbs down” on a message they don’t like.

Apple users can also send larger video files and other pieces of Internet content more easily.

But since iMessages are on their own network, which is separate from standard over-the-air text messages, these Tapbacks don’t translate well for Android users using the default texting app on their phones. YouTuber Marques Brownlee has a great video that explains it all Debate between blue bubble and green bubble. (iMessages appear as blue bubbles on iPhones, while standard text on non-iPhones appears green.)

Google has default reactions to what is used in RCS or Rich Communication Service. It is an updated form of the text messaging standard MMS, or Multimedia Messaging Service. RCS adds many of the modern Internet-based messaging features found in iMessage and WhatsApp, but to standard over-the-air text messaging services. While Google has been willing to adopt the new standard, Apple has been less. According to the test of Apple vs. Last year’s Epic Games, it became clear from internal documents that Apple had considered bringing iMessage to Android, but was held back because it would have been seen as a deterrent to iPhone-owning parents buying iPhones for their children.

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Essentially, Apple would prefer to keep Apple users in an exclusive little bubble based on the evidence from that trial.

Still, the iMessage-related issue is largely seen as an issue for the US market, as many international markets default to WhatsApp and Meta-owned Facebook Messenger. Since these apps are available for both Android and iPhone users, there are no exclusive colored message bubbles.

Either way, the RCS reactions Google is using among iMessage users aren’t translated one-to-one. For example, an iMessage heart translates to a smiley emoji with heart eyes. A question mark becomes the thinking face emoji.

As mentioned above, this feature is currently being rolled out to beta users. According to 9to5Google, it currently works on Pixel 6 devices. It’s unclear when Google will issue the update for everyone else.

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