Google has announced new features for Messages, Android’s answer to Apple iMessage. In a blog post, the search giant said that it has completed global rollout of Messages, its messaging app for Android phones. “Today, we’ve completed our global rollout of chat features to make this modern messaging experience universal and interconnected for everyone on Android. Now anyone using Messages around the world has access to modern chat features either from their carrier or directly from Google,” said the company.
To mark the global availability, Google also announced the beta rollout of of end-to-end encryption for Android Messages starting with one-on-one conversations. The feature will be available to beta testers, who can sign up later this month.
End-to-end encryption (E2EE) means that no one other than the sender and the recipient can read the chat messages. Google too cannot read the messages in transit. The company is said to be using Signal Protocol. The E2EE feature is currently not available for SMS/MMS as well as in group messaging.
Apple iMessages too come with support for end-to-end encryption.
For the past few years, Google has been working to provide chat features in Messages based on the open Rich Communication Services (RCS) standard. These chat features upgrade SMS text messaging with the aim to enhance user experience and make it more interactive as well as engaging. RCS messaging enables Android users to send and receive better quality photos and videos, chat over Wi-Fi or data, get read receipts, share reactions and more.
Users in countries, including India, where RCS has rolled out recently, will see a banner when they open the app explaining the way the feature works and how they can now enable it. The feature can also reportedly be activated via Messages’ settings in case a user dismisses the pop-up initially.