Google is celebrating 30 years of SMS by rolling out a long-awaited security feature for Google Messages. Now, group conversations on the Google Messages app will be end-to-end encrypted.
The company first announced full encryption of group chats in May at Google I/O 2022. Now, after nearly seven months, the new feature is entering beta testing and will be available to anyone registered with the Play Store software. End-to-end encryption ensures that only you and the person or people you’re messaging with can read or listen to what’s being sent, not even Google.
Messaging apps like WhatsApp have already had this feature for group chats for a few years now, so Google has been playing catch-up.
In addition, Google has also confirmed that extended emoji reactions will be coming to Messages. This is another feature that we were expecting in the platform a little earlier. But finally with end-to-end encryption in group chats as well, Google Messages seems to be living up to other messaging services.
Google announced the new features as part of its celebration of 30 years of the SMS service in a Articles (Opens in a new tab) and a push towards RCS (Rich Communication Services) which Google calls “the next generation of cross-platform text messaging”.
Green bubble vs. blue bubble
Apple is one of the few companies that has moved away from adopting RCS and is known for bubbling green text to Android users. Google dug into Apple for not switching to RCS and ending the “green vs. blue bubble” difference.
Neena Budhiraja, Group Product Manager for Messages app cited security as one of the main reasons why the entire industry is adopting RCS. She also calls out Apple, saying, “Texting is stuck in the ’90s.”
This is also part of Google’s ongoing “Get the Message” campaign targeting the iPhone maker. We’ll have to see if Apple eventually joins in. Apple’s iMessage also has end-to-end encryption on all chats, limited emoji backlash and FaceTime has been built into the app. Cupertino maintains its iPhone privacy by blue-labeling chats between iPhone users, so it’s hard to say if it would adopt RCS to put a stop to that. On the other hand, if that happens, it will become very easy for Android and iPhone users to communicate and share photos, videos, and files.
Apple also needs to realize that in the wide world of cross-platform features, there may be other ways in which it may need to partner with Google. In fact, it was only recently that Google and Apple teamed up to be able to share digital car keys.
Google recently launched 5 new features for Android phones – including a fun new holiday emoji.