Google’s on an update kick this week. After bringing sharable digital car keys to Android and Adidas app integration to Wear OS, the company announced that end-to-end encryption for group chats is coming to Messages by Google, the default messaging app for most Android smartphones.
Messages by Google already encrypts threads between two Android-using parties. But now the encryption exists for group chats, too. It’s only rolling out in beta for now, but if you’re interested, you can sign up as a tester.
The technology relies on RCS, or Rich Communication Services, for the encryption, which means it’s not compatible with iOS users, as iMessage doesn’t support the standard. So if you have a friend on an iPhone chiming in, the messages with them are not encrypted.
As more security vulnerabilities become apparent in the smartphone world, it’s even more critical for companies and other software makers to encrypt your data. But Google’s campaign behind this latest update is about getting the other guys to adopt RCS. “RCS doesn’t only make texting more secure—it makes the experience better, too,” urges the Google blog, adding, “all of the major mobile carriers and manufacturers have adopted RCS as the standard—except for Apple.”
As an Android user, I applaud Google’s efforts to get everyone on board, even its competition. I’ve benefitted from these new features, and admittedly, it’s fantastic to share emoji reactions with my iPhone-messaging friends. I’ve also been spending time on the other side of the fence and seeing how seamless and integrated iMessages is into the Apple ecosystem. Apple’s not budging on its walled garden anytime soon, but at least with these new feature additions, the overall Messages by Google app experience improves for all.
Android 13 for Android TV
Android TV OS has been updated to the latest version of Android, Android 13. The new version adds new APIs for managing different audio devices, display resolutions, and refresh rates. The new Android TV can also identify HDMI state changes to help preserve power. That was previously a feature only available on Google TV devices like the Chromecast with Google TV.
Android 13 enables additional accessibility and input controls for Android TV, too. The InputDevice API helps Android TV support varying keyboard layouts and controllers. The Accessibility Manager also lets you enable audio descriptions system-wide.
Android TV with Android 13 is available now for developers. You’ll have to check with your manufacturer about when your dongle, TV, or set-top box will receive its update.