What Does Emphasized Mean on iPhone? 

If life doesn’t make you feel old, just try to keep pace with technology.

Every year we are offered a small landfill of shiny new products with features and options we can hardly understand, much less operate. Thankfully, we can still rely on search engines and web pages to help us fill in the blanks. 

For those who have jumped on the Apple train and purchased an iPhone, you may be confused about what a text being emphasized means. To put it as simply as possible, an emphasized text is a text that has been reacted to with the “!!” reaction. The reaction is used to isolate useful texts, making them emphasized. 

For those wanting a peek into how reacting and emphasizing texts works, we will be discussing exactly how this feature operates. Whether you want to reply to a message without sending a written response or you want to break a friend’s spirit by giving all his texts a thumbs down – we will show you all of it! 

How To Emphasize Messages 

Before we get into the heavier stuff regarding how these texts appear on Android and all the different options you have, let’s discuss how to make a message emphasized. This process has been made incredibly simple by Apple and requires very little know-how on the recipient’s end. 

  1. Navigate to your messages and locate the text you want to emphasize or react to. 
  1. Press down on the text you want to emphasize and hold it. 
  1. A drop-down menu will appear listing the different reactions you can choose from. 
  1. Select the “!!” reaction or a similar reaction you would like to use. 
  1. The text will now be emphasized with the reaction appearing next to the message. 

Some screens can be more finicky than others and depending on what you are reacting to, it doesn’t always want to cooperate. If you find that holding down the text, picture, or clip you want to react to doesn’t immediately work, hold down a different part of the message. 

What Reactions Are Available? 

For those overwhelmed by the several dozen emoji options at your disposal, you can breathe a sigh of relief. The reaction system is uncomplicated and pleasantly straight to the point. As of this article, there are six different reactions to choose from when a message is being emphasized. 

You can thumbs up or thumbs down a message as well as react with a heart if you really get a kick out of something. The last three reactions are the “HAHA” reaction, the double exclamation mark or emphasize reaction, and finally, the question mark reaction.

While it may come across as rudimentary, it allows a conversation to gracefully reach a conclusion without several one-word responses. Reactions are available not just for texts but also images and videos. 

Why Would You React To A Message? 

There are several scenarios where using a reaction or emphasizing a message could be important. Sometimes in text conversations, we can receive several bits of crucial information. By emphasizing this we make the message stand out as more useful than the rest of the conversation. 

Say you were going to visit a loved one you text often and they give you their address two weeks prior. Over the course of the next fourteen days, that message is going to get lost in a sea of back-and-forth communication. If you emphasize the text as you get it, the important message will be easier to find down the road when you are hopelessly scrolling through walls of dialogue. 

If you are involved in a group conversation with several people involved, using a reaction to a message shows your opinion of it without crowding the message conversation with needless chatter. An exclamation reaction shows you found something important or concerning without having to deal with six people typing all at once. 

To make matters even more simple, you can simply make use of reactions and emphasized messages to let someone know you approve or disapprove of what a message entails. You can also use this to confirm you have received and read a text message without having to respond. Often times message threads with several recipients will use the thumbs up and down reactions as a way to make group votes. 

It also lessens the need for messages that are inane, random, or unimportant. If someone says something that makes you laugh, you can slap a ‘Haha’ reaction on top of it and avoid the conversation killing ‘lol’ text. Reactions are great for showing appreciation for a message without derailing the flow of your conversation. 

So while it won’t revolutionize communication as we know it, having the ability to isolate important information is inarguably advantageous. Seemingly unimportant updates like the emphasized message are one of the reasons Apple products have been so successful for so long. The company does not typically grow complacent in its success and offers every possible improvement it can fit inside its products.

How Emphasized Messages are Received by Android 

iOS and Android devices have never been in any real hurry to accommodate the rival phone when they have stumbled onto a good idea. This resulted in emphasized messages coming across very poorly on Android devices.

Let’s say Brian wants to laugh at a text Ahmed sent so he emphasizes a message with the ‘Haha’ reaction. This would show up as “Brian laughed at your text” on Ahmed’s Android device. 

Thankfully, as of March of this year – Android users can now read all reactions from their iPhone-owning acquaintances. This update has made it so all reactions on the iPhone will be seen as emojis next to the message on Android.

So instead of Ahmed seeing that “Brian laughed at your text” sentence, he would see a laughing emoji. For Android users who have seen the awful mess of text that would appear from iPhone message reactions; the new update is a welcome step forward. 

This update hasn’t been an exact science, however. While some of the reactions translate perfectly on Android or iPhone, others can get lost in translation. If we look at the emphasized reaction, we can start to see why reactions could be misinterpreted from iPhone to Android.  

Instead of the double exclamation marks, it translates to an emoji with an open mouth, wide eyes, and a shocked expression. This can prove very confusing when you are trying to get a message across to someone on a different mobile platform. The Android version of an emphasized message looks more like shock and surprise than anything else. 

Not all the reactions have gone through a rigorous game of telephone, however. The thumbs-up and thumbs-down reactions are both roughly the same on Android. Even the Loved reaction is very similar to a smiling face with two heart eyes. So even though a couple translate very poorly, most will get your general point across. 

The ‘Haha’ reaction is a bit easier to discern than other translated reactions, though the emoji they used has caused some amount of confusion across different age groups. The “crying laughing” emoji is pretty easily understood by younger generations – though has been at times misused by those less accustomed to newer technology. Regardless, this is admittedly one of the more minor changes in the transition. 

The last is the question mark, which translates to an emoji doing his best impression of The Thinker. Essentially, it is an emoji rubbing his chin with a raised brow and a thoughtful expression.

This reaction is very poor because a question mark hints that you didn’t understand something while the Android emoji makes it seem like you are deeply contemplating the message. So despite the fact that you are trying to convey to a friend that you need more context – they think you are doing your best impression of a philosophy major. 

The process of making Android and Apple more compatible with one another is a slow-moving vehicle. Neither company has any real motivation to optimize their interface to be more inclusive to competing products, to the disdain of consumers looking to optimize their tech.

This isn’t a perfect update by any stretch of the imagination, but when it comes to compatibility between Android and iOS – any progress is good progress. 


Technology is changing the way we not only communicate with each other but the way we communicate in general. While we may still use similar words and letters to the people a few hundred years before us, we exchange information differently.

It’s hard to imagine Alexander Hamilton hitting Aaron Burr with a thumbs down via horseback. It is equally difficult to imagine keeping a written correspondence with a platonic friend three hours away in 2022. 

The point is we have to adjust to not just society, but the technology around us. So it is very important that we learn some of the more superfluous terminology and information we witness in our day-to-day lives.

That could be learning emphasized messages, new electronic products, or even quick fixes for different mobile and audio devices. If you wish to educate yourself on any of the things previously listed, Swift Moves has a compendium of helpful articles on all things tech!