Google’s SMS replacement to get end-to-end encryption

Google Messages is reportedly working on end-to-end encryption for RCS messages, according to 9to5Google.

This follows investigations into a build of Google Messages version 6.2 which was leaked by APKMirror.

“While we’re still actively looking through the many changes found within, one in particular stood out — end-to-end encryption for RCS messages,” said 9to5Google.

“In fact, there are a total of twelve new strings in the app that make reference to encryption,” it said.

RCS messages

RCS messaging comprises a range of standards to replace traditional SMS and MMS on Android devices.

Improvements over traditional SMS technology include support for group chats, video chats, calls, and the sending of high-quality images.

Users can also send read receipts (the equivalent of the “blue tick” feature in WhatsApp) and see when someone is typing – all features that users have come to expect from messaging apps.

RCS is currently only available in a few countries, but the goal is to have it replace SMS globally on Android devices.

Encrypted RCS

Details are limited on what the requirements would be for sending an encrypted message, 9to5Google said.

“It’s possible that both parties will need to be using the Google Messages app, though this could change once more apps gain support,” said the report.

However, 9to5Google said that both the sender and recipient will definitely need to have a strong Internet connection for end-to-end encrypted RCS messages to be transmitted successfully.

“If either of you has a poor connection, Google Messages will offer to send your message through SMS or MMS as a fallback method,” it added.

9to5Google also found that Google Messages plans to implement additional security measures to protect end-to-end encrypted RCS messages – including whether other apps can see your encrypted messages.

“As all of this is only just beginning to appear in a “dogfood” build of Google Messages; we still have a bit of waiting to do before end-to-end encryption arrives for RCS,” said the report.

“That said, it’s clear Google wants RCS to be a legitimate competitor to iMessage.”

Now read: WhatsApp and Twitter in the firing line over privacy

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Google’s SMS replacement to get end-to-end encryption