If you miss the good old days of sending letters to loved ones and are fed up with the barrage of emojis and LOLs on apps like WhatsApp, you might enjoy the formal back and forth of email. But a big update coming to Gmail could soon make your emailing feel more like modern text messaging or social media.
Tech giant Google appears to be about to add emoji reactions to Gmail, its widely used email service – so if you send someone a thoughtful email message, instead of replying they could simply send you an emoji.
This is already popular on WhatsApp, where you can press and hold on any message in a chat to ‘react’ to it with an emoji rather than send a text message in reply. It’s quick and easy, but means people can avoid texting back if they feel an emoji will do instead.
You might not want to send a long heartfelt message only to get a thumbs up emoji in response. This is something we’ve seen for years on social media such as Facebook, where the ‘Like’ button was born.
Google copying Facebook and WhatsApp means your Gmail inbox could soon be full of smiley faces, crying laughing faces, hearts, thumbs ups, and all manner of other emojis. Perhaps Google is worried people aren’t emailing each other any more and wants to make Gmail more like the messages we send every day on WhatsApp, text apps, and Apple’s iMessage.
There are signs other big tech companies think email is outdated too. Emoji reactions are something Microsoft Outlook users might already have seen – you can use emojis to react quickly to emails on Microsoft’s email service already.
Online sleuth Steve Moser spotted Google testing out the upcoming emoji feature in the iPhone and Android apps for Gmail.
“The emoji reactions feature would be a welcome addition to Gmail,” he wrote. “It would allow users to quickly and easily express their thoughts and feelings about messages without having to type a response. This could be especially useful for emails that are long or complex.”
The trend for modern communication over text and email is already less personal than the traditional phone call. While some might enjoy the convenience of sending a heart to a lengthy email, it could discourage conversation for friends, family, and businesses.
This Gmail feature is still in testing, but that usually means it’s coming to Gmail very soon.