Google is working on end-to-end encryption for RCS texts in Messages

Yolanda Curtis
May 26, 2020

We're talking end-to-end encryption over messages, which Google has yet to include.

The latest build of Google Messages (v6.2.031) app contains strings in its code that hint at the arrival of end-to-end encryption for RCS messages. Users on Fi will one day be able to move their conversations and history over from Hangouts, access it all via the Messages web portal, etc. Messages appears to be close to becoming the messaging app for Fi customers, where Hangouts has long-been forced upon them.

RCS is a communication protocol between mobile telephone carriers and between phone and carrier, aiming at replacing SMS messages with a text-message system that is richer and can transmit in-call multimedia. Moreover, Google Messages is less secure than iMessage, as it doesn't support end-to-end encryption, which is a key feature for messaging apps.

As of now, there is no further information about the exact requirements for using end-to-end encryption.

Other apps, including WhatsApp and Signal, also offer end-to-end encrypted instant messaging. That's according to code spotted in an upcoming version update by the folks at APKMirror, as first reported by 9to5 Google this weekend. So, if that has always been a deal breaker for you, you'll be glad to know that Google is working to change that.

The strings make it clear that users can send end-to-end encrypted RCS messages, but in case their connection is poor, they can fall back to the legacy SMS or MMS standard.

As seen in the second example above, Google Messages will require an internet connection for the feature to work.

Also, both parties might have to use Google Messages to take advantage of end-to-end encryption, although other RCS apps could also get support in the future.

You can grab the Messages app from the Play Store but that won't have the above experimental end-to-end encryption.

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