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Google begins testing iMessage-like emoji reactions in its Messages app

Android Messages with a dark theme
Android Messages with a dark theme (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google has begun testing the much-anticipated 'reactions' feature in its Messages app.
  • For now, only a small number of users are seeing the feature in their RCS chats.
  • Google is expected to begin rolling out the feature to users sometime in the coming weeks.

Earlier this year, an APK teardown had revealed that Google was working on adding emoji reactions similar to iMessage to its Messages app. It now appears that Google has started testing the feature for RCS chats in the Messages app.

As spotted by Android Police, a few users on Reddit have confirmed that message reactions have started appearing in Google Messages. To select an emoji reaction, users have to long press on a message. As of now, however, it appears there are only seven emoji reactions to choose from.

When a user who has the feature enabled sends a message reaction to another user who does not, a fallback text is sent, describing the emoji that was used for the message. As per users on Reddit, however, these fallback messages are not sent to contacts who do not have RCS enabled. The emoji reaction feature is currently not available for SMS-only conversations.

Even though Google has rolled out a new beta version of its Messages app, you won't be able to access message reactions simply by installing the latest beta. While it hasn't been confirmed, there is a good chance that it is a limited server-side test. Google will likely share more information about the new feature soon and could begin rolling it out to users sometime in the second half of the year.

Babu Mohan
News Writer
11 Comments
  • This isn't something I would use, but do hope it will make those reaction messages you get from iPhone users less annoying.
  • Those will still be there...and annoying because Google will be using RCS which iPhone has no known plans to support...because Apple.
  • ugh, i hate these.
  • I love this. Glad it's almost ready.
  • Yet they won't even consider adding message scheduling?
  • Popped up on my phone this morning here in the UK.. Brilliant! I'm almost ready to delete WhatsApp.
  • I do not see why this would push you to delete WhatsApp? For a start Apple users will not have RCS and there will still be many people who will not be using RCS and while I do not use WhatsApp, I presume it offers far more than what RCS will offer?
  • Cos WhatsApp has slowly become a social media app with its Stories, Non-stop grouo chats and constant barrage of forwards and shared content. Not gonna bash WhatsApp cos i like it and use it but it's slowly losing its way in my opinion.. thanks to Facebook. Then of course.. we know they intend on bringing ads in. I'll still use it but at a reduced rate and only for the cross platform group chats and internationally if the other person does not have RCS. However, as long as I'm messaging people in the UK.. I'd use RCS and if the other does not have it i.e. iPhone users.. they'll get the fallback SMS. Makes my life a lot less complicated. I'm so tired of using WhatsApp here, trying FB Messenger there and testing Signal elsewhere. I just want to use my default Android Messages app.
  • I thought it was a social media app from the start, with messaging as it main function. I have never used it, I have seen videos of it being used, but that is it.
    A few people are saying about telegram, being better, maybe you should try that, but I agree with you about different messaging systems and this is why I mainly stick with SMS. It is a messaging system that have been with us for years and even an old Nokia 3310 would understand the text. My problem with RCS apart from the rubbish that will be sent with it is if someone who has RCS sent me a message, how bad will it look once it get to me as SMS? I still do not see the point in RCS, but that is me, SMS is a quick messenger and does the job
  • Messages received via SMS are no different from what you see in IP based apps like WhatsApp. Media though would of course be downgraded with compression and all that BS but that's SMS/MMS for you. That's partly why I'm all for RCS to replace SMS. I know Telegram, tried it maybe a month or so ago.. deleted after like 10 minutes. It's just another app i have to install that is not even as widely used as WhatsApp so it's a step back for me. Bottom line.. I've got about 100 contacts I can say i chat with.. as of yesterday my RCS contacts jumped from around 25 to just over 40. It's growing and I'm glad it is. It's only a matter of time before it becomes the standard.. how long a matter of time actually is, is a convo for another day.
  • I think, I set my SMS app just for text so if anyone tried to send me anything else it would be rejected, not that anyone I know would even try it. I have no problem with RCS running alongside SMS, but I would not want it to replace SMS. RCS uses data, be it via WI-FI on a home or public Wi-Fi network or a mobile broadband network, but it still needs that data, no data and it is not going to do anything. SMS can be sent and received with a very weak signal, I have done it myself when I could not call, but was able to send and receive SMS. Some people don't even have a smartphone, or they have, but they don't pay to use a load of data. On my phone I have Facebook messenger, because it seems to be the thing some people use, an email app and the SMS app, No telegram, no Whatsapp. If people want to contact me, then phone, SMS or if they really must, use Facebook Messenger. If they need to send me something then use email. I do not have 100 contracts, I really do not know where people have 100 contracts from unless it is business and then what business will send stuff that RCs will use? I can not see my work sending me a message via RCs with gifs in, not they can as i have not given them my mobile number. They have my home phone number that is enough
    I suppose I may have around 45 contacts and i know for sure that a quarter of them will not have RCS as they have Iphones and the majority of the others will not look at getting RCS, they may be pushed by google, but I doubt they decided to change to RCS on their own. That is if they are using RCS.
    I was going to install Google messenger and check, but to be honest I can not be bothered. i can not see myself ever use it to be honest unless I buy a new phone and it is there as default. I just do not get the excitement about it. With SMS, I send a text, I get another one back, I really do not want to chat by text or for people to know I am typing a message, that is what i hate in Facebook Messenger. People start typing and i fthink oh they are going to send a message and then it eventually comes an hour later as they got distracted and done something else, I have done it myself . I realise that some people like this sort of thing and great if they do and that is fine they can use RCs and their Whatsapp, but let's leave SMS for the people like myself who just want to send a quick message. SMS have already killed the art of talking to people by voice on a phone, with RCs it will get worse