Rumors regarding emoji reactions on Gmail have been circulating for several weeks although, outside of a few screenshots, we hadn’t seen it in action until recently. Industry insider AssembleDebug managed to get the feature working on their Android device and shared their findings on TheSpAndroid blog.
According to the report, a new button will appear “to the right of the email” next to the three-dot menu. Tapping it opens a small menu where you pick from five default emojis: a sparkling heart, a party popper, a thumbs up, a laughing face, the praying hands (which people use to say thank you), as well as your run-of-the-mill smiley face. Once selected, that emoji appears in a reaction bar below the message, as you see in messaging platforms.
TheSpAndroid states there will be two other places “from where you can react on an email”. There will be an Add Reaction option in the three-dot menu plus an extra button at the bottom of an email next to Reply, Reply All, and Forward.
This feature will reportedly work on email threads that include multiple people. They explain that “it may be possible to react just by tapping” emojis somebody else added previously. Of course, users will be able to send any emoji they want by tapping the Plus symbol in the small window that pops up. You’ll have the full library at your disposal.
As fun as this update may sound, there are several limitations present with one in particular that could potentially ruin the experience.
If other people don’t use the official mobile app, they’ll receive the emoji reactions in separate emails. Imagine sending an email out to a group of people and getting spammed with multiple “emails of emoji reactions”. Not fun. It's important to note that the browser version of Gmail may not have the new emoji support.
It looks like Google is aware of the spam problem as users won’t be allowed to react to emails sent to a large group. So there is some mitigation, but it probably won't be enough to stop the spam. Also, you won’t be able to send emojis to encrypted emails or any received via BCC. The limit for reactions is capped at 20 for one person. In a group, the limit is bumped up to 50 for all.
It’s unknown when this update will roll out. However, AssembleDebug claims it will most likely happen sometime this month and “in batches.” If this comes true, we hope Google quickly releases a version for browsers soon after or installs extra preventative measures to slow down the spam.
Gmail is a widely used service, but you might find its security capabilities rather lacking. For more options, be sure to check out TechRadar’s list of the best secure email providers for 2023.