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[Update: More widely available] Google Messages rolling out end-to-end encryption to beta users

Last month, Google announced that it would fulfill a long-time feature request in its RCS client. End-to-end encryption in Google Messages is now rolling out for some beta users.

Update 12/10: E2E encryption is rolling out to many more users of the Google Messages beta. Besides the announcement prompt and lock icons, heading to the “Details” page in the overflow menu of a conversation offers a “Verify encryption” option.

There are 16 sets of five digits that Google suggests you read aloud (over a call) to the person you’re in contact with to confirm that “only your intended recipient receives your end to-end encrypted messages.” This is very much optional, but something for those that want to go the extra step.

Original 12/7: In mid-November, Google announced the security feature alongside the global availability of its direct RCS solution. E2EE means that the contents of a chat cannot be read by anybody as it’s sent from sender to receiver.

Google is initially enabling end-to-end encryption for one-to-one conversations. It will be on by default with no option to disable and past chats automatically upgraded, thus resulting in a very privacy-first stance from Google. Besides RCS/Chat needing to be enabled, both parties have to be on the Google Messages beta

Once it’s rolled out, the “Chatting with [contact]” banner will feature a lock icon. That gray symbol will also be displayed next to timestamps and delivered/read indicators, as well as on the send button. 

There are only a handful of reports — specifically in the US and Canada — this evening (via Twitter and Reddit) about E2E encryption’s availability. Google advertises the feature as providing “more security in chats,” and notes how “messages are now more secure while sending” with a link to learn more.

A blue bubble announcing that it’s live on your device will appear in the first conversation where both parties meet the requirements. E2EE will also be available when using the Messages for web client.

This availability tracks with Google’s timeline for encryption in Messages. It will not be fully available until sometime next year.

More about Google Messages:

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: