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And all RCS chats are now end-to-end encrypted

Google has been pushing RCS, the new texting standard meant to replace SMS and MMS, since around the same time it acquired Jibe Mobile back in 2015. Getting key players to adopt the standard has been the biggest hurdle, with Apple famously holding out despite pressure from Google. That hasn’t stopped the company from implementing new RCS features in its Messages app for Android, and today, Google has announced a major development with its messaging standard.

A Google Community Manager took to the Messages help forums to announce that RCS is now enabled by default for all new and existing users, unless they previously disabled RCS (via 9to5Google). This is a major departure from the old RCS enrollment process that prompted users to enable the feature and sometimes required registering a phone number manually. Now, enrollment will happen automatically and silently in the background.

Despite this change, it’s still possible to disable RCS functionality if you’d rather not use the features it adds to Google Messages. Tap your profile picture or initial in the top-right corner of the app, then head to Messages settings → RCS chats (or Chat features) to disable the toggle next to RCS Chats.

Google also announced that it has finished its rollout of end-to-end encryption for group chats in Messages. We had previously spotted this feature in development back in December 2022, then we noticed Google enabling E2EE on group chats in the stable channel in April. Now, the company says E2EE for group chats is fully rolled out after individual chats got the same feature back in 2021. This means that all messages sent over RCS are only viewable by the sender and recipient — never by Google, your carrier, or any other parties.

This news comes on the heels of several recent changes to Google’s Messages app. New badges were spotted in testing about a month ago to indicate when a contact has RCS enabled, and Magic Compose AI-generated responses were added as a beta feature not long before that. It may not have the user base of a service like WhatsApp, but Google Messages is finally looking like the true iMessage competitor we’ve been asking for on Android.

Thanks: Nick



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