This new Gmail emoji feature will ruin your Outlook inbox

Gmail spanning on Surface Duo 2
(Image credit: Future)

What you need to know

  • Google is shipping a long-anticipated feature to Gmail users. 
  • You'll be able to quickly respond to emails using emoji reactions.
  • The feature is already available for Android users and will roll out to iOS and web users in the next few months.
  • Since the feature is limited to Gmail account holders, it won't work with other types of accounts, such as Outlook.

Google has seemingly played catch-up with Microsoft by shipping a long-anticipated feature to Gmail. The new feature will let users respond to emails using emoji reactions, a feature that has been available for Outlook users since 2021. It allows users to quickly acknowledge receipt of an email without necessarily having to respond with text.

The feature is already available for Android users, but it's also expected to ship to iOS and web users in the next few months. As highlighted by Google, the feature is designed to let users express themselves while simultaneously having the capability of responding to emails with emojis.

While the addition helps Gmail catch up to Outlook, Google's implementation of emoji reactions is exclusive to Gmail accounts. That means the feature will not work as expected for users with other email addresses. Instead, the reactions will be received as a standard email, making the feature redundant and annoying for users without Gmail accounts.

Google further indicated that emoji reactions may have a different appeal or even appear as an email with a link that says “[Name] reacted via Gmail” when responding to emails from anyone without a Gmail account. The company also highlighted several other reasons why issues might occur:

Google also listed several reasons why users might be unable to access the feature:

  • You have a work or school account. Learn more about work or school accounts.
  • 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. Learn about Gmail Client-side encryption.
  • The sender has a custom reply-to address.

Analysis: Gmail's new emoji feature is saddening

Gmail on a Pixel 4

(Image credit: Future)

This is a long-anticipated feature that many users are happy to see coming to Gmail. However, the fact that it is limited to Gmail accounts simply beats its purpose. Anyone who doesn't use Gmail could potentially be spammed by messages containing a single emoji. Imagine if you are in a thread with several people and get a dozen emails of a thumbs up. What purpose does the emoji reactions feature in Gmail serve if it's limited to certain users?

Admittedly this is a new feature coming to this platform, so there's a chance that it will eventually play nicely with other email providers, such as Outlook.

What do you think of the new emoji feature? Let us know in the comments below.

Kevin Okemwa

Kevin Okemwa is a seasoned tech journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya with lots of experience covering the latest trends and developments in the industry at Windows Central. With a passion for innovation and a keen eye for detail, he has written for leading publications such as OnMSFT, MakeUseOf, and Windows Report, providing insightful analysis and breaking news on everything revolving around the Microsoft ecosystem. You'll also catch him occasionally contributing at iMore about Apple and AI. While AFK and not busy following the ever-emerging trends in tech, you can find him exploring the world or listening to music.

  • rmark66
    So, Google is doing with email what Apple does with iMessages for texts. So much for interoperability!
  • wojtek
    oh, look. Google once again being beyond dumb... what a novelty, what a surprise!

    If I started to get spam with reactions I think I'll start blacklisting morons using emoji reactions in email... 🙄