Google has announced two important changes have already rolled out for RCS chats in its Messages app. The first change is that RCS messaging (rich communication services) will now be enabled by default in Google Messages for all new and existing users – that is unless you’ve turned off RCS in the Settings menu.
To find your Settings, in the Messages app tap on your profile picture in the top right corner; the top option should be RCS Chats and if you press it you should see if RCS chats are turned on, alongside settings like read receipts and typing indicators.
The second (and arguably more important) change is that Google is making all RCS conversions in Google Messages end-to-end encrypted – finally bringing the security feature to group chats. Google Messages already used encryption to add an extra layer of security to one-on-one chats and this update should help to keep more of your private chats private.
Just note that this feature is only available for chats in which everyone has RCS messaging turned on, and they’re all using Google Messages. So your chats with someone that uses one of the best iPhones or has decided to opt out of RCS won’t be end-to-end encrypted.
This update should already have rolled out to your device but it might be worth checking your Messages Settings to ensure that it has hit your smartphone.
What is RCS messaging?
RCS messages aren’t just more secure text messages, they offer a few other benefits such as the ability to share higher resolution images and videos, to get read receipts to see when your message has been delivered and been read, and the ability to send chats over data and Wi-Fi.
One disadvantage to watch out for is that RCS messages typically count against your data allowance rather than any text allowance you have in your phone plan. So your plan’s unlimited texts might not mean you have unlimited RCS messages.
However, different carriers have different rules – for example, some networks won’t count RCS messages against your data usage effectively making them ‘free’ while others will count them. We’d recommend looking at your network and contract rules to find out exactly what your situation is.
Google is clearly keen to make RCS messages the standard for messaging with its new encryption settings, however it might need to team up against the UK government if it wants its new security feature to stick around for long. To find out more, read our story about why Apple has threatened to pull iMessage from UK iPhones.
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Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.