Google Messages starts getting end-to-end encryption support

Google Mesages on a Pixel 3
Google Mesages on a Pixel 3 (Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google announced end-to-end encryption was coming to its Messages app.
  • The security feature is now available in beta builds of Messages.
  • Users will be able to enable it if both parties in the thread are on the most recent builds of the app.

End-to-end encryption is a method of encryption that keeps data secure while in transit. It's employed in apps like WhatsApp and iMessage, keeping the contents of user messages away from prying eyes.

As promised, Google is rolling it out to its own messages app, and beta testers can try it out now (via 9to5Google). You'll need to be on the Google Messages beta to have it enabled, but once you're on the latest build, you'll see a slew of indicators.

Google's help page for end-to-end encryption says:

Chatting with [contact name or phone number]" when end-to-end encryption is active in a conversation. Your messages will also include a lock on the send button. The timestamps of end-to-end encrypted messages also have a lock.

At this time, end-to-end encryption is not available for group messages. It's also not coming to SMS or MMS as a limitation of the aging protocols.

Thankfully, Google recently rolled out RCS globally. As long as you have the Google Messages app installed, you'll be able to use take full advantage of this. Unfortunately, the lack of Apple support for this new protocol mean that people who have iPhone-using contacts would be unable to use it to its fullest.

Google Messages App Icon

Google Messages

Google's Messages app comes pre-installed on many Android phones, but some manufacturers like Samsung choose to ship their own bespoke messaging app. You'll need to download this app to use Google's Chat service.

Michael Allison