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Google adds more iMessage features to Android’s Messages app

Google is upgrading Android’s default messages app with support for iMessage reactions and enhanced media sharing as it tries to lure over customers from Apple’s iPhones over to Pixels and other Android phones. The new updates are rolling out this week to the U.S. and some worldwide countries.

The biggest change Google is bringing here is support for iMessage reactions, or tapbacks. While Google supports reactions between Android phones, and iPhones support reactions between iPhones, this is the first time both are being cross-compatible — kind of. iPhone users will now have their tapbacks converted to emoji on Android phones, but Android users will still remain unable to send reactions to iPhones. This does mean an end to “Laughed at,” style messages, for Android users at least.

Google will also now let you convert photos and videos shared by SMS to Google Photos links so that the original quality of the media content remains intact. If you were using RCS, as Google points out, you’d be able to share it in high quality.

Other features coming to the Messages app include new filters to separate messages between personal and business chats, automatic deletion of one-tie password messages, nudges to remind you to reply to that friend you left on read, customized emojis, and birthday reminders.

Google's new Messages app features.
Google

Google has long since wanted Apple to take on RCS messaging in its own messaging app. While that wouldn’t give Android users access to Apple’s iMessage service, it would close the gap between the “green” and “blue” bubble experiences. Google today attempted to flip the messaging *ahem* between iOS and Android by framing iPhones as the ones who are backward, and Android phones as supporting the new modern standards.

“When people with Android phones and iPhones message each other, not everything works the way it should. That’s because these conversations rely on SMS, an outdated messaging standard, instead of RCS, a modern, more secure industry-standard Android uses that enables high-quality videos, emoji reactions, end-to-end encryption, and more,” said Google’s Jan Jedrzejowicz, Group Product Manager for Messages and Phone by Google, “These new updates can only do so much. We encourage Apple to join the rest of the mobile industry and adopt RCS so that we can make messaging better and more secure, no matter what device you choose.

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