Anyone who’s been in a text message group chat with participants spread across iOS and Android probably knows about the annoying reaction texts coming from iPhone users, usually formatted as: Person A Liked/Disliked “Person B’s message.” But now, after Google implemented a workaround inside its text message app on Android, Apple is doing something about it with iOS 16. After the update, it will hide those written messages and output them as the expected bubble icon next to the message it was in reaction to (via 9to5Mac).
Google’s fix on the Android side earlier this year worked a similar way, by adding iOS-friendly emoji reactions to the Google Messages app. Apple’s iMessage Tapbacks have since appeared as proper emoji icons on Androids using Google Messages, but the issue largely persisted in iPhone “green bubble” threads.
Tapbacks started with iOS 10 in 2016 when iMessage received its most defining upgrade ever with features like full-screen message effects and stickers. While iOS 16 iMessage is adding more new features than it has in the six years since — like the ability to edit / unsend messages — it still won’t include support for RCS, the SMS-successor messaging technology Google is focusing on.
Google has worked hard to try to speed up the adoption of RCS so that it could do more than just parse spammy reaction messages between platforms, but it seems Apple prefers this workaround over adopting a new standard. Perhaps RCS might need some work against actual spam before Apple would even consider it.