Google Messages is testing E2E-encrypted group chats

Google guaranteed it would add RCS-based end-to-end encryption (E2E) to group chats in its Messages application. This is a significant step up compared to MMS group messages, which are unencrypted by design. It would likewise update the RCS standard with the Signal protocol, used by both WhatsApp and the Signal messenger itself. As per reports on Reddit, the organization is presently preparing to generally launch this capacity.

As spotted by various individuals on the Google Messages subreddit, Google Messages is by all accounts attempting to establish end-to-end encrypted connections in RCS groups. The example below shows that the endeavor actually comes up short. A generic message shows up taking note of that the message one is attempting to see is encrypted and in this manner not noticeable — reasonable on the grounds that E2E isn’t live for everybody in the group. Making matters more complicated for this group chat specifically is the way that it doesn’t just comprise of Google Messages clients yet in addition some on Samsung Messages, which likewise supports RCS.

Upon additional digging, some of the Redditors found out that their Messages app has E2E group chat enabled already. This is clear by reading out the application’s Phenotype flags, which show that E2E encryption is enabled for some. Notwithstanding, it’s unclear which version of the Messages application this is precisely and in the event that the switch is reliant upon a server-side a/b test or a simple app update.

It’s clear that the feature still needs work, as well. While chatting in a group with individuals who can’t receive encrypted messages, the application ought to fall back to unencrypted messaging as to not reject anybody from the discussion. Considering that the subreddit and the Messages group appears to comprise of devotees (the group is designated “r/RCSbuddies,” after all), we can assume that the greater part of these individuals are likely using beta versions of their respective chatting apps, which could prompt this unwanted behavior.

Google at first vowed to bring E2E encrypted group chats to Messages during Google I/O 2022, all while one-on-one messages are now encrypted. You can determine whether a discussion is E2E encrypted by the lock that appears close to recently delivered messages.