iOS 16 fixes annoying 'Tapback' spam

In the spring of 2018, Google updated its Messages app to support handling iMessage reactions. By displaying the emoji attached to the message instead of spamming a group chat with separate messages whenever someone responds to a text with one of iMessage's Tapbacks, the app will no longer spam the group chat with separate messages. It appears that iOS 16 will also fix this longstanding annoyance on Apple's side.

As one of Messages' many updates arriving with iOS 16 and macOS Ventura, the feature was first spotted by 9to5Mac and then tweeted by an Apple employee on Monday. Apple's WWDC keynote address on Monday covered a number of highlights, including messaging editing, marking unread and retractions, but the new feature 'SMS Tapback Inference' was not included.

The conversation between iMessage users and Android users is designed to become SMS-based by design. The blue bubbles will be destroyed by even one Android user in a group chat — a decision Apple has used to lock iPhone users into their platform, especially U.S. teens who find the green bubbles “uncool.” The reality is that all iPhone users will find themselves in a chat with an Android user at some point, and in these cases, Tapback emoji reactions will turn into spam messages.

A user who is chatting across mobile platforms gets separate (and very annoying!) additional texts that someone liked, loved or otherwise responded to a message, instead of the emoji being displayed alongside the message. As a result, group chats become cluttered, notifications become excessive, and the user experience is poor.

As a result of Apple's action, Android will now better interact with this emoji reaction feature as it addresses this issue. As an alternative to receiving an extra text, users will receive an emoji reaction alongside the message they are responding to — but in green to indicate Android origins.

Apple has yet to roll out RCS support, despite the fact that the newer communication standard supports emoji reactions natively - perhaps because RCS features such as typing indicators, read receipts, higher-quality picture messages and more are too similar to iMessage.

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