Google Messages, the default messaging app for Android devices, recently announced that it will use end-to-end encryption by default for all eligible conversations. This means that no one, including Google or third parties, will be able to read the content of messages sent between users who have RCS chats enabled in Messages.
RCS, or Rich Communication Services, is a protocol that enables advanced features such as high-quality media sharing, read receipts, typing indicators, and group chats in Messages. RCS chats are also compatible with SMS and MMS, so users can still communicate with anyone who has a phone number.
End-to-end encryption is a security method that protects the privacy and integrity of messages by encrypting them with a secret key that only the sender and recipient have access to. The key is generated for each message and deleted after the message is decrypted. This prevents anyone from intercepting or tampering with the messages, even if they have access to the network or servers that transmit the messages.
Google Messages introduced end-to-end encryption for individual chats in December 2020 and expanded it to group conversations in April 2023. The feature is automatically enabled for users who have the latest version of the Messages and Carrier Services apps installed on their devices and have RCS chats enabled in Messages.
To check if a conversation is end-to-end encrypted, users can look for a lock icon next to the message timestamps and on the Send button when composing a message. Users can also verify encryption by comparing a unique verification code to their contacts.
Google Messages is one of many messaging apps that offer end-to-end encryption, such as Signal, WhatsApp, Telegram and iMessage. Unlike some of these apps, however, Google Messages users do not need to create an account or register with a phone number to use the service. Users can simply use their existing phone number and SIM card to send and receive messages via Messages. Google Messages also integrates with other Google services such as Google Photos, Google Assistant, Google Duo and Google Pay. Users can easily access these features from the app without having to switch to another app.
Google Messages is available for download from the Google Play Store for Android devices running Android 5.0 Lollipop or later. You can also access Messages over the Internet by scanning a QR code from your phone.