Google has announced that Rich Communication Services (RCS) messages in the Messages app on Android smartphones will now be fully end-to-end encrypted by default. This important update ensures that messages remain private, protected from both Google and carriers.

Google also announced that group chats in Messages will now support end-to-end encryption. The company hinted at this improvement last year, and the initial rollout of end-to-end encryption for individual messages began in late 2020.

Google has aggressively promoted RCS, positioning it as a rival to Apple’s iMessage and its iconic blue bubbles. For a long time, the end-to-end encryption feature in all iMessage chats set it apart from Google Messages. With this update, they are now on par with iMessage in terms of encryption.

RCS has a number of advantages over traditional SMS, including typing indicators, read indicators, and the ability to share high-resolution photos and videos.

Despite Google’s efforts, Apple has not yet adopted RCS. If Apple were to adopt this standard, communication between Android devices and iPhones could be greatly improved. But for Apple, the closed iMessage messaging system is a way to keep users on the iPhone.