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Android Messages beta starts properly displaying iOS Message reactions

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The cross-platform feature is more widely available

Emoji reactions from an iOS user, seen in Android Messages.
Screenshot: Google Messages

Google is widely rolling out a new Google Messages feature to beta users that allows the Android messaging app to correctly interpret emoji reactions sent from the iOS Messages app, 9to5Google reports. The feature appears to be live in version 20220121_02_RC00 of the app, according to Droid-Life, but not for every user. Although it didn’t work on every phone we tried, we were able to get it working on an Oppo Find X3 Pro, which is more than can be said for when the feature initially started appearing last November.

The feature fixes a long-standing issue that can affect SMS chats between iPhone and Android users. When an iPhone user reacts to an Android message with emoji, the Android user typically sees this reaction sent as an entirely separate text message, resulting in confusion and lots of unnecessary clutter.

How the reactions appear to the recipient, on Android.
Screenshot: Google Messages
How the reactions appear to the sender, on iOS.
Screenshot: Apple Messages

Previously, the thumbs down emoji in the above example would have been represented by a separate text message for Android users, saying a user “disliked” the “Do you agree?” message. The new beta app now treats emoji reactions the same across both operating systems.

As 9to5Google points out, there are inconsistencies between how reactions are represented on each operating system. The thumbs up and thumbs down reactions are similar across both platforms, but iOS’s “haha” reaction turns into “face with tears of joy” on Android, while “heart” becomes “smiling face with heart-eyes.” “Exclamation marks” become “face with open mouth” while “question mark” is “thinking face.” These are minor differences, but they could lead to significantly different interpretations of a reaction’s meaning.

The new “Show iPhone reactions as emoji” feature is enabled by default in the beta Google Messages app, in the Advanced menu under Settings.