According to WABetaInfo, the latest Android beta for WhatsApp has a secret: message reactions! Or at least it has the implication of message reactions, anyway. The latest beta doesn’t actually have functioning reactions in it yet. Instead, it provides users with a message telling them they need to update in order to view reactions.
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So while reactions aren't currently available, it's clear that WhatsApp is working on their inclusion. All additional details are up in the air at this point, so it's uncertain exactly how message reactions will work.