One of the features many will likely miss when switching from iMessage to RCS is message reactions. The latest Google Messages beta, version 5.7 “Unicorn,” appears to be adding emote reactions for messages, as well as the ability to draw on images.

About APK Insight: In this “APK Insight” post, we’ve 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’re able to see various lines of code within that hint at possible future features. Keep in mind that Google may or may not ever ship these features, and our interpretation of what they are may be imperfect. We’ll try to enable those that are closer to being finished, however, to show you how they’ll look in the case that they do ship. With that in mind, read on.

Message reactions

Those on Android who have friends with iPhones have surely at least once seen a message along the lines of “Laughed at an image.” Some may take annoyance to this unnecessary message, while others may envy their Apple loving friends the ability to react to messages just like on any other messaging service.

Now that Google Messages is strongly pushing RCS messaging in the United States, England, France, and soon more parts of the world, Google looks to be taking the opportunity to add reactions. A handful of strings in Google Messages 5.7 directly reference adding a reaction to a message and the kinds of reactions you’ll be able to share.

<string name=”reaction_selection_content_description”>React with %1$s</string>

<string name=”reaction_like_content_description”>Thumbs up</string>

<string name=”reaction_dislike_content_description”>Thumbs down</string>

<string name=”reaction_angry_content_description”>Angry face</string>

<string name=”reaction_laugh_content_description”>Face with tears of joy</string>

<string name=”reaction_love_content_description”>Smiling face with heart eyes</string>

<string name=”reaction_sad_content_description”>Crying face</string>

<string name=”reaction_surprised_content_description”>Face with open mouth</string>

Google has also included some animations to go with a few of the reactions.


Update 8:33am: Our Dylan Roussel was able to enable reactions in Google Messages 5.7, showing off the interface and available reactions. To open the reactions interface, you’ll need to press-and-hold on a message to select it. For now, though, tapping the reactions doesn’t do anything.


Draw on images

Elsewhere in the app, it appears Google Messages 5.7 is preparing a way for you to doodle on images you’re preparing to send, similar to Google Duo’s doodling features. You’ll have a handful of tools and more than a few colors to choose from once it launches.

<string name=”draw_button_action”>Draw mode</string>

<string name=”exit_button_action”>Close editor</string>

<string name=”calligraphy”>Calligraphy</string>

<string name=”highlighter”>Highlighter</string>

<string name=”pencil”>Marker</string>

<string name=”color_black”>Black</string>

<string name=”color_blue”>Blue</string>

<string name=”color_green”>Green</string>

<string name=”color_hotpink”>Hot Pink</string>

<string name=”color_orange”>Orange</string>

<string name=”color_purple”>Purple</string>

<string name=”color_red”>Red</string>

<string name=”color_selected_template”>%s selected</string>

<string name=”color_white”>White</string>

<string name=”color_yellow”>Yellow</string>

Material Theming search bar

Additionally, Dylan was able to enable a new layout for the Google Messages homepage which swaps the traditional app bar out for a new floating search bar, similar to the one found in the Android apps for Gmail and Google Photos. This makes the search functionality far more prominent than its existing UI of just a search icon in the corner. Similar to Google Photos, the “Messages” branding animates away to show “Search messages.”

How to update?

You can sign up for the Google Messages’ beta program here or by heading to the Play Store listing on Android and scrolling to the bottom. The latest beta version of Google Messages is immediately rolled out when it’s available.

Thanks to JEB Decompiler, from which some APK Insight teardowns benefit.

Dylan Roussel contributed to this article

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