An analysis of the latest update to Google Messages suggests it may be moving closer to having end-to-end encryption for RCS, according to 9to5 Google (via APKMirror). Rich communication services, or RCS, is the successor to SMS messaging and does what most other texting services do, but without the end-to-end encryption that apps like Signal and iMessage have. Its widespread adoption has been a bit of a mess, but the major US cellular carriers announced late last year that they would offer RCS in 2020.
Google first unveiled RCS chat as Android’s primary texting platform in 2018, and in November, announced it was actually rolling it out to users in the US.
An internal build of Google Messages v. 6.2 has several lines of code that offer clues to possible future features for the app, including 12 new strings that refer to encryption, according to 9to5 Google’s analysis. There isn’t enough information available to determine whether the sender and recipient of texts in Messages would need to be using the app for the end-to-end encryption to be in effect. The code updates do suggest a setting that might allow users to decide whether to grant permission to other Android apps that have access to messages to see encrypted messages as well.
There’s no way to know if or when Google will ever ship the end-to-end encryption feature. But the company has said previously that it was working on it, so it seems likely to happen.