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Google is testing iMessage-like reactions for RCS chats in its Messages app

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RCS messaging may not be the iMessage killer for Android that some folks hoped it would be, but it is finally giving us a decent replacement to aging SMS standards. Thanks to Google, we didn’t have to worry about the carriers botching it, either. But, one iMessage-like feature has just been spotted in the wild for RCS “Chats” in Google Messages: Get ready to send emoji reactions.

We knew that this feature was being worked on based on earlier teardowns, but we didn’t know if or when the feature would actually land. However, a couple of reports over on Reddit indicate that the feature is starting to be tested, with two people confirming seeing reactions live in Google Messages in their RCS/”Chat” conversations.

 Google is testing iMessage-like reactions for RCS chats in its Messages app 2

Left: a reaction on a message in Google Messages. Right: The reaction selector, apparently available with a long-press of a message. Images via /u/rwinftw and /u/radtheoristmango.

As you can see above, reaction emoji appear set in a small circle below and to the right of messages. Long-pressing a message lets you select a reaction, with at least seven different emoji options (visible above). We aren’t sure if there are more emoji available.

Google is testing iMessage-like reactions for RCS chats in its Messages app 3

RCS conversation participants that don’t have the feature get a message like this for reactions.

Right now, it looks like fallback is RCS-only, showing the emoji of the reaction and the message it was intended for in a standalone message (like many of us on Android are now used to being continuously spammed by in large group iMessage chats), with no fallback messages for SMS and no option for reactions in SMS-only conversations. Reactions also allegedly do not appear in Messages’s web-based counterpart.

We don’t actually know yet if reactions are visible between two people that have the feature right now, but we assume they must be (though we’ll update if and when that’s verified).

So far, we haven’t noticed the feature live on any of our devices, though a new Beta update for Google’s Messages app just started rolling out. Even testing this latest version on our devices with RCS enabled and working, the option to react to messages doesn’t appear for us. This might be a limited server-side test/flag, or there could be some other requirement we’re not yet aware of.

With us expecting much of the news previously anticipated during Google I/O to land in the coming days and weeks, I think there are very good odds we’ll be hearing more about this feature from Google soon.

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