Google Messages displays iMessage responses as emoji

The latest update to Google Messages is preparing for a new way to deal with the annoying iMessage response messages that are often seen in mixed group chats.

Update: This feature has already started to roll out for some, allowing us to see it in action.

About APK Insights: In this “APK Insight” post, we have decompiled the latest version of an application that Google uploaded to the Play Store. When we decompile these files (called APKs in the case of Android apps), we are able to see different lines of code within that hint about possible future features. Keep in mind that Google may provide these features and that our interpretation of what they are may be imperfect. We will try to activate those that are closer to completion, to show you what they will look like in case they send. With that in mind, read on.

iMessage reactions like emoji

Every Android fan probably has at least one friend with an iPhone who insists on using responses even when not using iMessage. In these cases, you will receive long messages as follows:

Likes a picture

emphasized “We are on the way”

In an iMessage group, these are simple reactions, but in mixed conversations, a fallback message is sent to let Android owners not miss the fact that a message has been confirmed and responded to a bit. For some, including this author, these messages are incredibly annoying, with friends most often using responses to incredibly long messages in a group chat, which messes up the message history.

In the latest beta update for Google Messages, version 10.7, we found that Google may be preparing a smarter way to handle inbound iMessage responses. According to a newly discovered preference (not yet live in the app), Google Messages should be able to intercept incoming iMessage responses and instead display them as “emoji”.


View iPhone reactions as emoji

So far, it is not clear exactly how this “classification” would work, but one would imagine that Google Messages would detect incoming messages starting with something like “Likes” and try to match it with an earlier message. Once the message is responded to, Google Message may hide the incoming iMessage decline and instead display an emoji below the original message.

That said, iMessage has a different set of responses than currently offered by Google Messages in RCS chats. Google may be responsible for this, as mentioned in the code to “map” the iMessage responses, possibly map to the set of responses available in Google Messages today, or maybe just map to different emoji.


Update 19/11 15:00: It seems that Google has already slowly begun to roll out Messages’ ability to interpret iMessage responses on its own responses. Lent by screenshots given to 9to5Google by reader Jvolkman, we found that responses sent from an iPhone were interpreted correctly by Google Messages just like responses sent via RCS.

It is important that the backup messages are not displayed in the message history, which keeps things tidy. When you tap a message response, Google Messages shows that it was “Translated from iPhone”, which is really a humorous way to express it.

We can now see that Google has actually transformed some of iMessage’s responses to match what’s available through RCS. For example, the love response to iMessage is received by Google Messages as heart-eye emoji, while the laugh response is replaced with a smiling facial emoji.

In particular, if the iPhone user changes which iMessage response they have placed on a message, Google Messages correctly changes which emoji is displayed. This can be seen in the screenshots above where the love reaction was replaced with the laughing one.

Thanks Jvolkman!

Birthday reminders

Another feature that is being worked on with this Google Messages update is a handy birthday reminder. From what we can put together, Google Messages’ conversation list will directly show you that it’s a specific person’s birthday, presumably based on their Google contacts list.

Congratulations on their birthday!

If you’re in a chat with someone and it’s their birthday, you should also see a banner reminding you to congratulate them on their birthday. This banner can also have a fun, bouncy birthday cake animation.

“It’s their birthday today!”

Thanks to JEB Decompiler, which some APK Insight teardowns take advantage of.

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