Google said today it is testing end-to-end encryption for RCS-based group chats on its Messages app — RCS stands for Rich Communication Services. The company noted that it will roll out this feature to select users to be part of the app open beta program in the coming weeks.
This comes next a bunch of Redditors noted that Google was testing end-to-end encryption for group chats in October. The company’s latest announcement makes it official.
The search giant first started testing end-to-end encryption for individual RCS chats in 2020. In June it rolled out the feature to all users of the Messages app.
Google pushed manufacturers and carriers to adopt RCS — a hypercharged version of SMS with features like type indicators, delivery, and read receipts. It has also campaigned to convince Apple to adopt this standard for its own Messages app. This way, people using Android can send rich multimedia messages with better photos and videos to their friends using iPhones.
While Apple hasn’t budged yet, Google hasn’t missed an opportunity to give the Cupertino-based tech giant another push with the new announcement.
“Today, all major mobile carriers and manufacturers have adopted RCS as standard – except Apple. Apple refuses to adopt RCS and continues to rely on SMS when people with iPhones message people with Android phones, meaning their texting is stuck in the 90s,” said Neena Budhiraja, group product manager for the Messages app in a blog post.
“Hopefully Apple can #GetTheMessage so we don’t have to wait to get rid of the whole ‘green versus blue bubble’ thing. Happy birthday, text – you were off to a great start and you had a good run, but everyone is ready for an upgrade.
Google has also tried to bridge the experience across two operating systems by adding features like comment support for iPhone texts.