For the past year and a half, Google has been rolling out its next-generation messaging to Android users to replace the old, clunky, and insecure SMS text messaging. Now the company says that rollout is complete, and plans to bring end-to-end encryption to Android messages next year.
Google’s Rich Communications Services is Android’s answer to Apple’s iMessage, and brings typing indicators, read receipts, and you’d expect from most messaging apps these days.
In a blog post Thursday, Google said it plans to roll out end-to-end encryption — starting with one-on-one conversations — leaving open the possibility of end-to-end encrypted group chats. It’ll become available to beta testers, who can sign up here, beginning later in November and continue into the new year.
End-to-end encryption prevents anyone — even Google — from reading messages as they travel between sender and the recipient.
Google dipped its toes into the end-to-end encrypted messaging space in 2016 with the launch of Allo, an app that immediately drew criticism from security experts for not enabling the security feature by default. Two years later, Google killed off the project altogether.
This time around, Google learned its lesson. Android messages will default to end-to-end encryption once the feature becomes available, and won’t revert back to SMS unless the users in the conversation loses or disables RCS.