Google has announced that it is providing end-to-end encryption for group chats in the Google Messages app. The security upgrade goes to beta users first before it’s rolled out more widely.
End-to-end encryption means that no one, not even Google, can read the content of the messages. It’s already supported in the Google Messages app for one-to-one conversations, but now (via the edge (Opens in a new tab)) will be added to group chats as well.
End-to-end encryption for group chats begins rolling out and will be available to some users in an open beta program over the coming weeks. Google says (Opens in a new tab). “This shouldn’t just be an idea — just an expectation and something no one who’s texting should worry about.”
From SMS to RCS
In the same blog post of the announcement, Google revealed that the ability to quickly reply to a message with any emoji is coming to Google Messages soon as well. At the moment, only a select group of emoji can be used as reactions.
Besides mentioning these new features, Google has also continued to push hard for RCS (Rich Communication Services) to become the new standard for everyone — the technology, the SMS upgrade, is now widely available but not yet adopted by Apple on its iPhones.
Google’s participation also endorsed SMS 30th anniversarya milestone that underscores how old the technology is and how late we are now in getting a standard that can completely replace it.
Analysis: SMS should be a real date
The arrival of SMS three decades ago helped change the way we communicate with each other — even if messages were limited in terms of characters, and many phones could only store a limited number of texts at one time.
Now, apps like WhatsApp and Slack have taken us beyond those limitations. Messages can be much longer and include images, videos or audio, and we can even tell when recipients have opened the messages we send them.
Benefits like these are what make RCS a worthwhile upgrade, which improves message security and makes features like group chats that much better. Google did not create the standard, but it promotes it very much.
However, when an iPhone user sends a text message to an Android user, SMS is still the protocol used. Google wants to change that, but it’s unlikely Apple will ever do that — Apple knows iMessage is one of the main reasons people engage with iPhones.