Google Messages extends end-to-end encryption to group conversations

What do you want to know

  • Google intends to roll out end-to-end encryption for group conversations in Messages.
  • The security feature for group chats will go live in late 2022.
  • Google Messages introduced the feature to individual chats in December 2020.

Google announced today at its I/O 2022 event that it is adding support for end-to-end encryption (E2EE) to group chats in the Messages app as part of an effort to improve its security for more important conversations.

In a blog post, Google said E2EE will be available in group chats later this year through an open beta. This means that no one, including your carrier or Google, will be able to read the content of your group messages.

Today’s announcement comes more than a year after Google first unveiled E2EE in beta for individual discussions before moving it to the stable channel last June. It’s available to anyone with access to RCS, the new messaging standard that Google is trying to generalize.

“We have worked with carriers and phone manufacturers around the world to upgrade SMS text messaging to a new standard called Rich Communication Services (RCS),” said Sameer Samat, vice president of product management for Android and Google Play. “With RCS, you can share high-quality photos, see type flags, message over Wi-Fi, and get a better group messaging experience.”

When a message is encrypted, it displays a lock icon next to the read receipt underneath, as shown in the image below. It’s worth noting that not everyone you text may have access to RCS, so keep an eye out for the lock icon.

Google Messages E2EE (Image credit: Google)

With Google enabling E2EE for group chats, Messages will be on par with some of the best messaging apps, such as WhatsApp. The messaging platform recently introduced Communities to allow users to collect all of their group chats in one place, and Meta cited E2EE as one of the reasons for using the new feature.

No matter what messaging app you use, implementing E2EE for group chats is a huge privacy win.