Google has announced that it will bring end-to-end encryption to group chats in the Google Messages app. The security update is targeted at beta users first before being rolled out more widely.

End-to-end encryption means that no one, not even Google, can read the content of your messages. It already supports the Google Messages app for one-on-one chats, but now (via The Verge - opens in a new tab) it will be added to group chats as well.

"End-to-end encryption is starting to roll out for group chats and will be available to select users in the open beta program over the next few weeks," Google says (opens in a new tab). "It shouldn't even be a thought, just an expectation and something anyone texting shouldn't worry about."

From SMS to RCS

In the same announcement blog post, Google revealed that the ability to quickly react to a message with any emoji is also coming to Google Messages soon. Currently, only a selection of emojis can be used as reactions.

In addition to mentioning these new features, Google has also kept pushing for RCS (Rich Communication Services) to become the new normal for everyone: The technology, an SMS update, is now widely available but Apple has yet to adopt it in its iphone

Google's message also acknowledged the 30th anniversary of SMS, a milestone that underscores the age of the technology, as well as the delay we now have for a standard that can fully replace it.

Analysis: SMS really should be a thing of the past

The arrival of texting three decades ago helped transform the way we communicate with each other – even though messages were character-limited and many phones could only store so many texts. See you.

Now apps like WhatsApp and Slack have pushed us beyond those limits. Messages can be much longer and include photos, videos or audio, and we can even track when recipients opened the messages we sent them.

It's benefits like these that make RCS a worthwhile upgrade, as it improves message security and drastically improves features like group chats. Google did not create the standard, but strongly promotes it.

However, whenever an iPhone user sends an SMS to an Android user, SMS is still the protocol used. Google wants that to change, but Apple is unlikely ever to: Apple knows that iMessage is a big reason people stick with iPhones.

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