While Apple has made privacy one of the central themes of its marketing in recent years, Google isn't ready to wave the white flag in this fight with a number of similar efforts including privacy enhancements in Android 12.
Google is playing catchup with Apple's encrypted iMessage by bringing end-to-end encryption to its own Messages app. The company has been working on this for a while (the beta launched last November), but the implementation still isn't perfect. (via Engadget).
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The first downside is that this will only work for one-to-one conversations at the moment; group chats will break the encryption. The second is that both users must have the Rich Communication Service (RCS) chat features enabled for end-to-end encryption to work. If both of these requirements are met, you will see a small lock icon just below the messages.
The security update with support for end-to-end encryption is rolling out now and also brings with it a few additional features. These include Google Assistant Shortcuts that can take you directly to the right place within an app, Emoji
How to turn on end-to-end encryption in Android Messages
End-to-end encryption will automatically be turned on if you enabled the RCS chat features in Android Messages. So if you are using Android Messages as your default text messaging client (if not you can download it from Google Play), then you just need to verify that you have enabled RCS chat features.
- Open Messages
- Tap on the overflow (three dots) button in the upper-right corner
- Select Settings
- Tap on Chat Features
- You should see "Status: Connected" at the top
- Toggle "Enable chat features" to the on position
That's all there is to it. Once you and any friends who use Android messages have the update, you will automatically be using end-to-end encryption.