iOS 16 set to clean up one of Message's most annoying quirks

Two people texting on smartphones
(Image credit: Pixabay)

From exciting the chaos of the recent WDCC 2022 event emerges hints that Apple may be changing the way iPhones and Android devices interact forever.

Spotted by 9 To 5 Mac, iPhones running iOS 16 will be able to display emoji reactions to texts coming from Android smartphones in group chats. The feature is slated to launch as part of iOS 16, which itself is being released sometime in Fall 2022.

Tapback history

To understand why this is a welcomed change, it’s important to understand the problem. Tapbacks are emoji reactions meant to be a fast way to respond to a text on the iMessage app. You probably know them better as iMessages thumbs-up, thumbs-down, and the heart emojis.

If you send an emoji to an Android phone, they see it as a text, which is fine. The problem is when you send emojis to an Android phone in a group chat. The text meant for the Android gets sent out to everyone and leads to a really annoying spam problem as iPhone users get inundated with texts they weren’t supposed to get.

We reached out to Apple and asked if they would like to make a statement about the Tapback changes as well as the release date of the feature. While it is expected to release as a part of iOS 16, the fact that Apple didn’t mention the Tapback change in an official capacity may indicate that the feature is going to be in development for a while. Unfortunately, Apple never got back to us.

Analysis: The one standard

In recent months, the gap between iOS and Android has been closing. Google appears more than willing to bridge this gap while Apple, not so much.

For example, Google updated its Messages app to support those iMessage Tapback emojis that appear as an annotation to a text. This has been done thanks to the RCS (Rich Communication Services) protocol. RCS aims to bring features from various messaging apps to other devices and have a universal standard.

Apple, however, strongly prefers proprietary tech, and while Google has asked Apple to formally adopt RCS, Apple has yet to respond. Perhaps, Apple's small Tapback change represents a tiny step on the path to full compatibility with a universal messaging standard. Though we wouldn’t hold our breath.

There were lots of blink-and-you missed-it bits from WWDC. Here’s a list of our favorite ones.

Cesar Cadenas

Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.