Google announced it’s going to start rolling out end-to-end encrypted group RCS chats to the Google Messages beta over the next few weeks. Google’s messaging app has supported encryption for one-on-one conversations for a while now, but this is a big step for feeling confident that most of your conversations can’t be read by carriers or Google.
In an announcement post on Friday, Google said the feature will be “available to some users in the open beta program over the coming weeks,” so it may be a moment before it’s generally available. Google also officially announced that it’s working on a feature that’ll let you use any emoji when reacting to an RCS message; the company was spotted testing this last month.
While Google’s announcement post is styled as a farewell to SMS messaging, most of us won’t be able to ditch it that easily, as Apple has so far refused to bring the tech to iOS. (Tim Cook even told one person that a better solution is just buying their mom an iPhone.) Google acknowledges this and takes a few shots at its competitor, ending its post by saying, “all of the major mobile carriers and manufacturers have adopted RCS as the standard – except for Apple,” and that Apple’s use of SMS “means their texting is stuck in the 1990s.”
It’s the latest in a mostly one-sided feud between Google and Apple over RCS, with the Android maker seemingly trying to publicly shame Apple into adopting the standard, arguing that it would make things better for everyone.
The thought has often been that Apple’s iMessage is a decent competitor for iPhone users, though that may not be the case for much longer; given Apple’s stance on privacy, there’s been some concern over the fact that iMessage’s end-to-end encryption could be defeated if you or the person you’re talking to has iCloud backups on. If Google Messages’ RCS group chats don’t have that problem, it, along with options like WhatsApp and Signal, which have been expanding the ambitions of encrypted group chats even further, might be a better option for most people.