Google's new emoji email reactions are really going to irritate non-Gmail users

Emoji in a speech bubble

Google has decided to bring emoji reactions to Gmail, giving users the chance to respond to email with little more than a tap. Can't be bothered to type a proper reply? Just send a smile instead. It's an idea that has worked well on social platforms, so Google appears to believe it's something that will work with email too.

For anyone happy to send a quick and impersonal response in this way, the arrival of emoji reactions is great news. But for anyone who is not a Gmail user it is likely to be a serious source of irritation.

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At the moment, Google is giving Android users the opportunity to "express yourself and quickly respond to emails with emojis", but it is something that will spread to iOS and the web in the next few months. The idea is that emoji reactions are not only quicker to send than a typed messages, they should, in theory, be less intrusive for recipients too.

But there's an issue. The feature only works with Gmail accounts. This means that there will be a caveat for anyone who does not have a Gmail email address -- reactions will be received as a standard email. When there are several people using emoji reactions to respond to a group email, this could lead to a barrage of correspondence that would not otherwise exist.

For people who are using something other than Gmail, Google explains that "emoji reactions may look different and may appear as an email with a link that says '[Name] reacted via Gmail'". This is not the only reason for receiving an email instead of the intended in-app emoji. Google provides the following list of reasons:

  • If you use an older version of the Gmail app. 
  • If you set your Conversation view to off. 
  • If you don't have a Gmail address. .
  • If you use a third-party email, like Apple Mail or Microsoft Outlook.
  • If you use a work or school account.

There are also numerous reasons for not being able to send emoji reactions. The option is unavailable if:

  • You have a work or school account. .
  • The message is sent to a group email list.
  • A message is sent to more than 20 recipients.
  • You're in BCC.
  • You’ve already sent more than 20 reactions to the same message.
  • You open the email in another email provider, like Apple Mail or Microsoft Outlook.
  • A message is encrypted with Client-side encryption.
  • The sender has a custom reply-to address.

Full details about emoji reactions are available here.

Image credit: hobbit_art / depositphotos

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