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.

Illus­tra­tion by Alex Cas­tro / The Verge

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