Google Messages is rolling out end-to-end encryption for group chats in beta

Google Messages on a phone screen
(Image credit: Future)

What you need to know

  • Google has announced the availability of end-to-end encryption for group conversations.
  • The security feature was first promised for group chats over RCS in the Messages app earlier this year.
  • It will be available for group chats in the coming weeks.

As promised, Google is making one-on-one chats in Google Messages in beta end-to-end encrypted by default, preventing third-party prying eyes and even Google from reading the content of your messages.

E2EE in group chats is a significant improvement over SMS or MMS group messages, which are not secure by design. This also aligns the RCS standard with the protocol used by many of the best messaging apps, including WhatsApp and Signal. 

Google announced today that E2EE in group chats will be made available to some open beta users in the coming weeks. E2EE in group conversations, like in one-on-one chats, will be indicated by a small lock icon next to the send button. The feature was also spotted by a Reddit user in a group chat with Google Messages and Samsung Messages RCS users in October.

On top of E2EE for group chats, Google announced that Messages will soon also allow you to react to RCS messages using any emoji in addition to the preselected reactions.

Many forms of messaging are not currently end-to-end encrypted, potentially allowing third parties to read private messages. E2EE aims to address this issue, and Google reiterates that even the company cannot access messages.

The search giant noted that all of the major carriers and OEMs have adopted RCS as the standard nowadays while also taking the opportunity to call out Apple. The Cupertino-based tech giant still relies on SMS for messages sent on iPhones.

"Apple refuses to adopt RCS and continues to rely on SMS when people with iPhones message people with Android phones, which means their texting is stuck in the 1990s," Google said in a blog post. 

However, despite Google's penchant for throwing shade at Apple, it's unclear whether the company plans to adopt the RCS standard. However, as the number of companies supporting RCS grows, so does the pressure on Apple to join in.

"Hopefully Apple can #GetTheMessage so we don’t have to keep waiting to remove the whole 'green-versus-blue bubble' thing," Google said.

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.