Following some hints dropped by Steve Moser about Google introducing emoji reactions for Gmail on iOS, it’s now confirmed that Android users will be joining the party. Thanks to the detective work of AssembleDebug on his Telegram group, we now have a clearer picture of what to expect.
First off, Gmail isn’t just giving us a strict palette to paint our strong reactions to email with. While there will likely be a predefined set, similar to that of quick reactions from Google Chat, you’re sure to be able to add any your heart desires.
According to sources, while you can respond with an emoji directly from your email view, there’s also the option of diving into the overflow menu (that icon with three vertical dots) to access the emoji reactions feature on any email you receive. In this sense, reacting to messages will probably feel similar to text messages in some ways. What I’d like to see is an email body pop open with a reply button as a chat window.
There are apparently some guidelines to ensure things don’t get too chaotic though. For instance, if you’ve received a covert message via BCC, it’s a no-go for reactions. Similarly, encrypted messages are off the table. And if you’re part of an extensive email thread with countless participants, think of it as a neutral zone—emoji reactions aren’t permissible there since these are normally reserved for more one-on-one personal discussions.
There are a few other limits in place too, like a cap on the number of unique emoji reactions a message can have, and restrictions on how many times a user can react with a particular emoji. But these are, in all likelihood, measures to ensure the feature doesn’t overwhelming users.
Gmail looks to be bridging the gap between the immediacy of text messaging and the formality of emails. By introducing emoji reactions, responding to emails becomes quicker, more expressive, and more in tune with how we communicate in the digital age. I’m sure not everyone will like this, but as a millennial, I think it’s going to evolve the way we do things. Not everything needs a direct, full reply, but at least expressing yourself could be enough to confirm, right?