The ongoing back and forth between Google and Apple concerning RCS and green bubbles took on a new level of confusion this week, when someone noticed that Apple is either taking credit for Google’s work or has created its own cross-platform reactions idea. That’s an odd description of the situation, so let me try to explain.
On the iOS 16 features page from Apple, David Imel noticed a specific item from Apple that sure sounded like Apple taking credit for the message reactions that Google built into its own Messages app back in January. After testing the reactions between iPhone and Android device, it actually looks like Apple is deploying their own system, but the consistency of it is off. Or maybe it’s because Google’s system is working alongside it and taking over?
Anyways, to back up for a second, you all know about Google’s push for Apple to adopt RCS and Apple’s reluctance to do so. Google wants Apple to add RCS support to iMessage to make better messaging for all (and stop bullying), yet Apple wants no part of that because iMessage is a big part of the iPhone experience and keeping people within its ecosystem.
So in January, Google took those awful “LAUGHED AT” or “LIKED” reactions you get on Android from an iPhone user and turned them into emoji. It was a simple fix from Google that improved conversations between iPhones and Android phones. You can read more about it here.
And now we have Apple posting this to its iOS 16 features list that sure sounds like they want to take credit for Google’s work. Or are they?
If you didn’t happen to have an iPhone and Android phone sitting here to test, you really would think that Apple is talking about what Google did with reactions. However, I just sent several messages back and fourth from an iPhone 14 Pro and a Galaxy S22+. I’m seeing 3 different types of reactions, one that I believe is what Apple is talking about, one that is Google’s doing, and another that is the old broken system.
Below, on the Android side, you can see a specific “😂 to ‘hello'” that was a “HaHa” from my iPhone. My understanding is that this is what Apple is referring to. You’ll then see several where the emoji is attached to the lower right corner of the message, which would be how Google has tried to treat those reactions. And the third reaction type is the “Loved an image,” which was a reaction to an image that is clearly not working in either Apple or Google’s systems.
From what I can tell, Apple isn’t trying to take credit for Google’s reactions fix and is instead referring to their own system that differs from Google’s. Google’s, at least in Messages on my S22+, seems to take over and work more often than Apple’s. But there is a clear difference between the two styles.
This is all stupid confusion, all of which could be fixed by Apple adopting RCS.