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Google is testing end-to-end encryption with Android messages




As an alternative to SMS, Google has begun deploying end-to-end encryption for its rich communication service, a text messaging standard promoted by industry giants.


The story was originally published in Ars Technica, a trusted source of technology news, technology policy analysis, reviews and more. Ars is owned by WIRED’s parent company, CondNast.

Rich Communication Services, abbreviated as RCS, offers a much richer user experience than traditional SMS standards. Input indicators, presence information, location sharing, longer messages, and better media support are key selling points. They lead to higher quality photos and videos, chat over Wi-Fi, know when a message was read, share reactions, better features of group chat and more. As Ars review editor Ron Amadeo pointed out last year, carriers aren’t interested in RCS, so Google is rolling it out with limited support.

Google said Thursday that it has completed its global rollout of RCS and is moving to a new phase-end-to-end encryption. Interest in end-to-end encryption has skyrocketed over the last decade, especially due to exposure by the NSA from the indiscriminate espionage spy Edward Snowden.

End-to-end encryption is an antidote to such snooping. Use strong encryption to encrypt messages with a key that is unique to each user. Because each user owns the key exclusively, end-to-end encryption allows all other users, including app makers, ISPs, carriers, and three-letter agencies to read the message. lose. Messaging apps that currently offer E2EE include Signal, WhatsApp, and iMessage.

Google wants to join the club. Currently, E2EE is only available to users of the beta version of the Android messaging app. Still, E2EE only works for one-to-one messages between users using the Google app, and both senders and recipients need to turn on chat. Deployment will continue until next year. Google provides technical details here. In particular, technical papers reveal that E2EE messages are generated using the Signal protocol.

In 2016, Google announced the Allo messaging app. It also provided E2EE, but only when the user dug into the settings menu and turned it on. Two years later, Google killed it. Google says the RCS will automatically upgrade the target conversations and encrypt them end-to-end.

This story originally appeared on Ars Technica.

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