Google makes it safer to text on Android phones, but end-to-end encryption is still MIA

Verified SMS and spam protection rolling out now.

Credit: Ryan Whitwam/IDG

As part of its year-end push to bring Android Messages up to speed, Google is rolling out two new features today: Verified SMS and spam protection. Together, they will help make sure your conversations aren’t taken over by people you don’t want to talk to.

Like the phone app, Google won’t automatically filter out suspected spam messages, but it will warn you when it suspects one has arrived. You’ll be able to let Google know whether it got it right and also report spam texts, all of which will be used to improve the detection engine.

In addition to flagging spam, Google will also verify whether you’re indeed chatting with the brand you think you’re chatting with. If so, Google will add a verification badge alongside the business name and logo in the conversation. Google says 1-800-FlowersBanco BradescoKayakPayback, and SoFi are among the first brands to send messages with Verified SMS, with more being added daily.

While both of these features are certainly excellent additions to Android Messages—especially on the heels of the recent launch of RCS—it also underscores the biggest security safeguard that’s still MIA: end-to-end encryption. While messages are indeed encrypted while being sent, there’s no guarantee that they’re encrypted by the carrier, which means someone could be reading or intercepting messages along the way. Google promises that it doesn’t save messages, but most providers make no such claims, making it difficult to fully trust that your messages are for-your-eyes-only.

But at least you’ll know that they’re coming from verified sources, which is a step in the right direction. Verified SMS is rolling out in nine countries, , starting in the U.S., India, Mexico, Brazil, the UK, France, Philippines, Spain and Canada, while spam protection is rolling out in the U.S. following a broader launch earlier this year.

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Michael Simon

Michael Simon

PC World (US online)
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