From the excitement of the chaos of the recent WDCC 2022 event (opens in a new tab), there are hints that Apple could forever change the way iPhone and Android devices interact.
Spotted by 9TB 5 Mac (Opens in a new tab), iPhones running iOS 16 will be able to display emoji reactions to texts from Android smartphones in group chats. The feature is expected to launch as part of iOS 16, which itself will be released in the fall of 2022.
To understand why this is a welcome change, it is important to understand the problem. Tapbacks are emoji reactions meant to be a quick way to reply to a text in the iMessage app. You probably know them better as iMessages thumbs up, thumbs down, and heart emojis.
If you send an emoji to an Android phone, they see it as text, which is fine. The problem is when you send emojis to android phone in group chat. Android-bound text is sent to everyone and creates a really annoying spam problem as iPhone users are inundated with text messages they weren't supposed to receive.
We reached out to Apple and asked if they'd like to make a statement about the changes to Tapback, as well as a release date for the feature. Although it is expected to be released as part of iOS 16, the fact that Apple hasn't officially mentioned the Tapback change may indicate that the feature will be in development for some time. Unfortunately, Apple never contacted us.
Analysis: The Only Standard
In recent months, the gap between iOS and Android has narrowed. Google seems more than willing to close this gap while Apple, not so much.
For example, Google updated its Messages app to support iMessage Tapback emojis that appear as an annotation in the text. This was done using the RCS (Rich Communication Services) protocol. RCS aims to bring the functionality of various messaging apps to other devices and have a universal standard.
Apple, however, strongly prefers proprietary technology, and while Google has asked Apple to officially adopt RCS, Apple has yet to respond. Perhaps Apple's small Tapback change represents a small step toward full support for a universal messaging standard. Even if we didn't hold our breath.
There were a lot of flashy bits and you missed them from WWDC. Here is a list of our favorites.