In context: Back in 2019, Google began rolling out the next generation of text messaging: Rich Communication Services. RCS messaging supports features like read receipts, seamless messaging over wi-fi, as well as named chats, and the ability to add or remove people from group conversations. Now, Google's RCS implementation is poised to receive another significant feature update: end-to-end encryption.
Testers have been enjoying the functionality for months, but Google is only just starting to roll it out to the general public. Well, in a sense -- you have to be using the company's Messages app to be part of this feature rollout.
If you aren't using Messages but would like to, you can snag it from the Google Play Store. After doing so, unlocking end-to-end encryption will require two additional steps. First, visit the app's Settings menu (located by tapping the three-dot icon at the top right of the interface), tap "Chat features," and then switch on the "Enable chat features" toggle.
As for step two, that's even simpler: you'll just have to wait. Since Google's feature rollouts can take anywhere from minutes to days to fully complete, there's no telling when your RCS messages will gain full end-to-end encryption. When the day does come, though, you'll know: Google will slap a handy padlock icon above encrypted chats.
Additionally, even when the update reaches your device, you'll need to ensure the people you're communicating with are also using RCS messaging through the Messages app. If they're not, end-to-end encryption won't activate. Finally, group chats won't benefit from the feature at all, even if all participating parties have access to it.
Masthead credit: Dennizn