Starting today, Google is rolling out end-to-end encryption (E2EE) in group chats for Messages users enrolled in the beta program. 

Update 1/6/23: Amid the CES/Las Vegas push, Google today said it has “completed [its] rollout of group chat end-to-end encryption for users in Open Beta” in just over a month.

Compared to other A/B tested features, the company has been more transparent about E2EE availability:

Original 12/2/22: RCS conversations between two people picked up E2EE in June of 2021, and Google said it was coming to group chats at I/O 2022. In October, the company said initial availability of the security feature was still on track for this year and that it would continue rolling out in 2023.

Google today said it “will be available to some users in the open beta program over the coming weeks.” Group conversations will feature a “This chat is now end-to-end encrypted” banner, while a lock icon appears on the send button. There will also be information in the Group details page.

As a result, Google (or third parties) cannot read the contents of your RCS chats during transit between the sender and receivers. E2EE requires all parties to have RCS/Chat features enabled and data/Wi-Fi enabled.

Meanwhile, the company confirmed that “Messages will let you react to RCS messages with any emoji.” This is coming “soon” and has already been spotted by some users.

These two announcements come on the 30th anniversary of a software engineer sending the world’s first SMS message. Unsurprisingly, Google used today as a brief opportunity to push Apple on RCS adoption: “Most of the mobile world is using RCS, but there is one company that’s dragging its heels.”

Hopefully Apple can #GetTheMessage so we don’t have to keep waiting to remove the whole “green-versus-blue bubble” thing. Happy birthday, SMS – you were a great start, and you had a good run, but everyone is ready for an upgrade.

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About the Author

Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: