Messaging between iPhone and Android smartphones isn't a great experience — especially if it's in a group chat situation. It's been this way for years. One of the most pervasive irritations has been the way reactions to messages between iPhone and Android appear as text versions of themselves instead of "thumbs up" or "exclamation mark." It's annoying and clutters up your chat.
Fortunately, Google is working hard to make messaging between Android smartphones and iPhones a little bit nicer. As first reported by 9to5Google, Google has started to roll out a new feature to Google Messages app called "Tapbacks."
If you have an Android smartphone, Tapbacks will prevent message reactions from appearing as text versions of themselves that are sent as individual messages. Instead, they'll appear as a emojis next to the message (not as their own separate message) similar to how reactions appear between iMessage users. If you have an iPhone, these reactions from an Android message should appear just like they would from another iPhone user.
There are a few quirks in terms of converting the reactions between Android and iPhone; for instance, the "heart" and "exclamation marks" reactions on iMessage appears as a "smiling face with heart eyes" and "a face with an open mouth" reactions on Android, respectively. But the end result eliminate the extra messages that clutter a chat, so it's definitely a step in the right direction.
The catch, of course, that Android users need to be using the latest version of Google Messages. Google is rolling out its Tapbacks feature now to beta users. It's only available to some Pixel smartphones right now, but is expected to roll out to more Android smartphones in the near future.