The latest update to Google Messages prepares for a new way to handle the annoying iMessage reaction messages often seen in mixed group chats.

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

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.

iMessage reactions as emoji

Surely every Android fan has at least one friend with an iPhone who insists on using reactions even though you don’t use iMessage. In those instances, you’ll receive lengthy messages along these lines:

Liked an image

Emphasized “We’re on our way”

In an iMessage group, these are simple reactions, but in mixed conversations, a fallback message is sent to let Android owners not miss that a message has been acknowledged and somewhat responded to. For some, this author included, these messages are incredibly annoying, with friends most often using reactions on incredibly long messages in a group chat, cluttering the message history.

In the newest beta update to Google Messages, version 10.7, we’ve found that Google may be preparing a more clever way of handling incoming iMessage reactions. According to a newly discovered preference (not yet live in the app), Google Messages should be able to intercept incoming iMessage reactions and instead show them as “emoji.”

ios_reaction_classification

Show iPhone reactions as emoji

For now, it’s not clear exactly how this “classification” would work, but one would imagine Google Messages would spot incoming messages that start with something like “Liked” and try to match it to a previous message. Once it’s figured out what message is being reacted to, perhaps Google Message will hide the incoming iMessage fallback and instead show an emoji under the original message.

That said, iMessage has a different set of reactions than currently offered by Google Messages in RCS chats. Google may be accounting for this, as there is mention in the code of “mapping” the iMessage reactions, possibly mapping to the set of reactions available in Google Messages today, or perhaps just mapping to various emoji.

ios_reactions_mapping


Update 11/19 3:00pm: It appears Google has already slowly begun rolling out Messages’ ability to interpret iMessage reactions to its own reactions. Courtesy of screenshots given to 9to5Google by reader Jvolkman, we found that reactions sent from an iPhone were correctly interpreted by Google Messages just like reactions sent via RCS.

Importantly, the fallback messages do not appear in the message history, keeping things uncluttered. When you tap on a message’s reaction, Google Messages will show that it was “Translated from iPhone,” which is genuinely a humorous way of putting it.

We can now see that Google has indeed remapped some of iMessage’s reactions to match what’s available through RCS. For example, the love reaction on iMessage is received by Google Messages as the heart-eyes emoji, while the laugh reaction is replaced with a laughing face emoji.

Notably, if the iPhone user changes which iMessage reaction they’ve placed on a message, Google Messages correctly switches which emoji is shown. This can be seen in the screenshots above, where the love reaction was replaced with the laughing one.

Thanks Jvolkman!


Birthday reminders

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

<string name=”birthday_conversation_list_item_text_no_name”>Wish them a Happy Birthday!</string>

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

<string name=”birthday_banner_title_no_name”>”It’s their birthday today!”</string>

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

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