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Google Is Turning the Tables on Apple’s iMessage

Google is working to improve texting compatibility, even if Apple isn’t interested in doing its part....
Google Is Turning the Tables on Apple’s iMessage
Written by Matt Milano
  • Google is working to improve texting compatibility, even if Apple isn’t interested in doing its part.

    Google has been increasingly calling Apple out for its failure to adopt RCS messaging. RCS is the successor to basic SMS and includes the features iMessage has become known for. Google wants Apple to adopt RCS for cross-platform communication rather than falling back to the more primitive SMS, a move that would have no negative impact on communication between Apple devices. Absent Apple’s participation, Google is taking matters into its own hands.

    Google is improving Messages in 10 specific ways, including making it easier to respond to a specific message, adding Voice Message Transcription to voice messages, adding reminders directly in Messages, as well as making it possible to watch YouTube videos in Messages.

    The company is also adding some extremely useful features, such as Messages automatically suggesting that certain messages be starred, such as those that include addresses, phone numbers, door codes, and other information that a user may want to quickly find later.

    Interestingly, Google looks to be turning the tables on Apple with how it handles reactions. Inline reactions were first introduced in Messages in March 2022 and addressed one of the biggest pain points of cross-platform messaging. Prior to that update, when an iPhone user tapped the laughing reaction, the Android user would see “John Doe laughed at…” Following the March update, Message now translates iOS reactions to RCS emojis.

    Google is now going a step further, giving Android users the ability to add their own reactions to the SMS messages iOS sends to Android.

    Earlier this year, we started displaying emoji reactions from iPhone users on your Android phone. Now we’re taking a step further by letting you react to SMS texts from iPhone users with emoji as well. While RCS is the ultimate solution, we’re doing what we can to help Android users have a way to consistently react to messages.

    Google’s Jan Jedrzejowicz, Group Product Manager, makes it quite clear that the company is looking to ramp up pressure on Apple:

    As RCS adoption accelerates, we’re doing what’s possible to improve messaging between Android and iOS, like adding support for reactions. This builds on a suite of features that you already love, like an organized inbox that separates personal and business messages, the ability to share sharper videos and scheduled messages. And we’re doing even more.

    The move is actually quite brilliant. Android users sick of receiving the “John Doe laughed at…” messages forced Google to translate those reactions and display them natively. The company is clearly hoping that doing the same thing in reverse will put pressure on Apple to adopt RCS. Tim Cook has made it clear he doesn’t believe Apple users have any interest in RCS, but that may change when millions of iPhone users start complaining about what Android users have experienced for years.

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