Google Messages

Google is reportedly working to add end-to-end encryption for its text message replacement, Rich Communication Services (RCS) in Google Messages, according to 9to5Google. 

For those unaware, Rich Communication Services (RCS) is a new online protocol between mobile-telephone carriers and between phone and carrier that aims to replace current texting standard SMS (Short Message Service) messages with a text-message system that is richer and can transmit in-call multimedia. 

In November 2019, Google rolled out support for RCS as Android’s primary texting platform for anyone who uses the Android Messages app in the U.S. and few countries of Europe. 

RCS which is the successor to SMS messaging is an open competitor to apps like Signal and iMessage that have an end-to-end encryption system for messages. 

9to5Google discovered that an internal build of Google Messages version 6.2.031 has several lines of code strings indicating that the company is working on end to end encryption for RCS. 

The new feature was found in a leaked internal Messages APK, which is actually a ‘dogfood’ build, meaning it was not supposed to be available for the public. In total, there are twelve new strings in the app that refer to encryption (sometimes shortened to “e2ee”).

<string name=”encrypted_rcs_message”>End-to-End Encrypted Rich Communication Service message</string>

<string name=”send_encrypted_button_content_description”>Send end-to-end encrypted message</string>

<string name=”e2ee_conversation_tombstone”>Chatting end-to-end encrypted with %s</string>

<string name=”metadata_encryption_status”>End-to-end encrypted message</string>

According to the strings below, if your data connection is poor, you will have the option to send messages without encryption by reverting to regular SMS and MMS messages. In such cases, Google will remind you that SMS and MMS messages aren’t encrypted and will ask for consent before sending.

<string name=”e2ee_fail_to_send_retry_description”>Resend as chat</string>

<string name=”encryption_fallback_title”>Send unencrypted messages?</string>

<string name=”encryption_default_fallback_body”>”SMS/MMS texts aren’t end-to-end encrypted.nnTo send with end-to-end encryption, wait for improved data connection or send messages now as SMS/MMS.”</string>

<string name=”encryption_fallback_dialog_accept_button”>Send unencrypted</string>

<string name=”encryption_fallback_dialog_decline_button”>Wait</string>

<string name=”encryption_sent_fallback_body”>”SMS/MMS texts aren’t end-to-end encrypted.nnTo send with end-to-end encryption, wait until %1$s has data connection or send messages now as SMS/MMS.”</string>

Lastly, the Messages app will you decide whether other Android apps have permission to see your encrypted messages. It will also give you the option to send your location through an end-to-end encrypted message. 

<string name=”etouffee_to_telephony_setting_title”>Let other apps access end-to-end encrypted messages</string>

<string name=”location_attachment_picker_send_encrypted_content_description”>Send end-to-end encrypted message with selected location %1$s</string>

Currently, it is unclear when Google plans to roll out the end-to-end encryption feature to RCS in its Messages app. In the past, the company has mentioned that it is working on it, which means we can expect the feature to roll out shortly.