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Google Messages will finally let you react with emojis to iPhone texts - but there's a catch

The Google Messages app is getting several updates, including the ability to react with emojis to texts from an iPhone - though iPhone users will not see the emoji reaction on their end the way you see it.
Written by Sabrina Ortiz, Associate Editor on
A mother setting up a Google Pixel 6a phone for her young son
Image: Google

On Thursday, Google announced updates to its Messages app to better facilitate the way Android users interact with their messages and modernize their texting experiences. The updates include automatic suggestions that help keep your texts and meetings in order, as well as updates to the actual UI. 

At the Made by Google event earlier this month, Google announced a convenient audio message transcription feature on the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro

The voice message transcription feature, which gives users the option of reading a message rather than listening to it, is now available on the Pixel 6 family as well as the Samsung Galaxy S22 and the Galaxy Fold 4

Another set of changes affects the way users can react to messages. Now you can reply to individual messages in a conversation when RCS (the Rich Communication Services protocol) is enabled and react to texts with emojis, even if it's from an iPhone. 

Also: How to use Google Pixel phones' Magic Eraser

This is an expansion from the emoji reactions update in March, which only allowed you to see Apple emoji reactions without being able to react back. Now you can participate, too. 

A text message conversation about texting on board a plane, with a heart emoji reaction
Image: Google

However, due to RCS versus SMS compatibility, iPhone users will not see the emoji reaction on their end the way you see it – as an emoji stamped on the actual message. iPhone users will still get a notification with the name of the emoji you used, and if you are in a group chat with iPhone and Android users, Android users will see the emoji as intended. 

The Messages by Google app will also help you sort through your messages by suggesting you star messages that seem important and giving you the option to set reminders in Messages. The app will also suggest when you should set up a Meet call by having the icon appear next to a text that says something like, "Can you talk now?"

Additionally, when texting, you will now be able to watch YouTube videos directly in Messages as you continue to text the person. This will facilitate video sharing, since you no longer have to leave the Messages app. 

YouTube player in a Messages conversation
Image: Google

Lastly, if you have ever been stuck traveling without being able to text, Google comes to the rescue. 

Through a new partnership with United Airlines, users will be able to take advantage of free messaging on United flights when RCS is turned on.

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