is starting to test end-to-end encryption (E2EE) in Messages for RCS group chats on . Some users who are enrolled in the will gain access in the coming weeks ahead of a broader rollout. The company said that an E2EE beta for group chats would be available by the end of this year.
The move comes 18 months after Google Messages started offering to shield chats from prying eyes. It started testing E2EE in Messages in November 2020, so it may be several months before the privacy feature is enabled for all group chats.
Many carriers and phone manufacturers have gotten on board with RCS over the last several years to offer features such as high-quality photos and videos, read receipts and E2EE. The 30-year-old SMS format doesn't support any of those. Still, there's one company that's continuing to turn its nose up at RCS — Apple, which is staying cozy inside the walled garden of iMessage.
Google has been publicly pleading with Apple to adopt RCS but so far those efforts haven't proven fruitful. In September, Apple CEO Tim Cook that iOS users who are having trouble sending videos to a loved one with an Android device should just buy them an iPhone.
Nevertheless, Google has been trying to improve iOS and Android messaging interoperability, and it made another attempt to get Apple onboard with RCS in a blog post. "Today, all of the major mobile carriers and manufacturers have adopted RCS as the standard — except for Apple," Messages group product manager Neena Budhiraja wrote. "Apple refuses to adopt RCS and continues to rely on SMS when people with iPhones message people with Android phones, which means their texting is stuck in the 1990s."