Google is celebrating 30 years of SMS by rolling out a much awaited security feature for Google Messages. Now, group chats on the Google Messages app will be end-to-end encrypted. And it's also applying pressure once again for Apple to tear down one of the biggest parts of its walled garden.
Google announced the new features as part of its celebration of 30 years of SMS in a blog and in a push towards RCS (Rich Communication Services) that Google calls “the next generation of cross-platform texting."
Green bubble vs. blue bubble
Apple is one of the few companies that has stayed away from adopting RCS and is notoriously known for its green text bubbles for Android users. Google has taken digs at Apple for not switching to RCS and ending the "whole 'green-versus-blue bubble' thing.
Neena Budhiraja, the Group Product Manager for the Messages app has cited security as one of the main reasons why the whole industry should adopt RCS. She also calls out Apple saying its “texting is stuck in the 1990s."
This is also part of Google’s ongoing “Get the Message” campaign aimed at the iPhone maker. We will have to see if Apple will eventually cave in. Apple’s iMessage also has end-to-end encryption on all chats, limited emoji reaction and has FaceTime baked into the app.
Cupertino maintains its iPhone-exclusivity by labelling chats in blue between iPhone users, so it is difficult to say if it will adopt RCS to put an end to that. On the other hand, if it does, it will become much easier for Android and iPhone users to communicate and share images, videos and files.
Just don't expect that to happen. Back in September Tim Cook told a reporter to buy their mom an iPhone (opens in new tab) when asked about the messaging compatibility issues between Android and iPhone.
Apple also needs to realize that in the vast world of cross platform features, there might be other avenues where it might need to partner with Google. In fact, just recently Google and Apple joined hands in being able to share digital car keys.
Google Messages gets end-to-end encryption
Google first announced end-to-end encryption for group chats back in May at Google I/O 2022. Now, after nearly seven months, the new feature is entering beta testing and will be available for anyone enrolled in the Play Store program. End-to-end encryption ensures only you and the person or people you are messaging can read or listen to what's sent, not even Google.
Messaging apps like WhatsApp already had this feature for group chats for a few years now, so Google was playing catchup.
In addition, Google also confirmed that expanded emoji reactions will be coming to Messages. This is another feature we would have expected the platform to have slightly earlier. But finally with the end-to-end encryption on group chats as well, Google’s Messages seems to be up to the standard of other messaging services.