Google Messages finally releases end-to-end encrypted RCS group chats to more users

Google Messages RCS chatting on a Pixel 4a.
(Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google Messages has finally made end-to-end encrypted RCS group chats available to a larger number of users.
  • The feature was first made available to users through beta testing in December of last year.
  • To use this feature, you may need to update the app to the latest version.

Google finally made good on its promise to make all RCS group conversations end-to-end encrypted last December when it rolled out the security feature, but it was limited only to beta testers. That changes now with the wider release of encrypted RCS group chats.

The app already encrypts chats between two Android users. But now the encryption is making its way into group chats on the stable channel, catching up with many of the top messaging services such as Signal and WhatsApp.

The folks over at Android Police have seen E2EE enabled for an RCS-enabled conversation, although the outlet notes that you may have to update the app to the latest version in order to get access to it. The feature is available at least on version 20230329_00_RC01.phone_dynamic of Messages.

While the rollout appears to be widespread, Google has yet to publicly announce the latest development. Nonetheless, this is a significant step in Google's effort to give users confidence that their conversations are safe from third-party eavesdropping.

Google’s messaging app has supported encryption for one-on-one conversations since 2021. It is unclear why it took the search giant so long to release E2EE to RCS group chats. As more security flaws emerge in the mobile world, it’s more critical than ever for companies to encrypt your data, not the least of which is your conversations. 

However, since the technology relies on RCS for encryption, it is not compatible with iOS users. Apple's iMessage has long held out against supporting the standard, despite Google's repeated attempts to convince Cupertino to hop onboard the RCS bandwagon. So, if you have an iPhone-toting friend chiming in, be aware that the messages you send to them are not encrypted.

Jay Bonggolto
News Writer & Reviewer

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.

  • chapaj
    Will existing RCS groups upgrade to E2E encryption? Or will we need to create a new group?
  • tessera
    I cannot currently get RCS groups to have E2E encryption.
    I have tried many times with the most recent Messages update. (cited by article or later)
    I have gone beta for Messages, but cannot ask others to do this also. Is Beta still required?!
    Using the Messages 20230428 release on Visible (MVNO for Verizon)
    2 person E2EE works perfectly fine for some time, but E2EE turns off when 3rd user added.
    Is there any help for this current problem? (Names not shown.)353133