RCS messaging offers several benefits over regular texting, including typing indicators, read receipts, and support for higher-resolution photos and videos. And soon, RCS in Google Messages could offer another benefit.
Google appears to be working on end-to-end encryption for RCS in the Google Messages app. The folks at 9to5Google dug into an internal “dogfood” build of Google Messages (version 6.2) meant for testing by Google employees and found several strings of code that hint at upcoming end-to-end encryption.
There’s a total of 12 new strings that make reference to end-to-end encryption, sometimes shortened to “e2ee”. Here are a few of them:
<string name=”encrypted_rcs_message”>End-to-End Encrypted Rich Communication Service message</string>
<string name=”send_encrypted_button_content_description”>Send end-to-end encrypted message</string>
<string name=”e2ee_conversation_tombstone”>Chatting end-to-end encrypted with %s</string>
Other strings of code suggest that you’ll need a solid internet connection to send encrypted messages with Google’s app. If your connection isn’t good enough, Google Messages can offer to send your message as an SMS text but will warn you that it won’t be end-to-end encrypted and that if you want to send an encrypted message, you should “wait for an improved data connection.”
The code also suggests that Google Messages will take extra steps to protect your messages that are end-to-end encrypted. One example is that you’ll be able to set which other apps that have permission to see your messages can also see your encrypted messages.
The benefit of having end-to-end encryption for your messages is that it gives you extra privacy because the encrypted message you send from your device can only be decrypted by the recipient’s device. This is a feature that Apple offers for iMessage, meaning that there’s no way for Apple to decrypt your conversations when they’re moving between devices and your photos and videos are encrypted so that only you and the recipient can access them.
While some folks might feel that the conversations they’re having aren’t important enough to warrant end-to-end encryption, it’s a nice privacy feature to have and would be a great addition to the RCS in Google’s Messages app.
Because this end-to-end encryption is just starting to appear in an internal build of the Google Messages app, it’s unclear exactly when the feature might actually launch to consumers. Still, it’s great to see that Google is working on bringing this feature to RCS in its Messages app.