RCS is heralded as the next generation of messaging, bringing a range of advanced features to messaging that you currently don't get in normal SMS. Unlike Apple's iMessage service which has been around for many years, Google hasn't had a standardised system on Android for a number of reasons.
Google Messages - the app that provides SMS and MMS messaging services - introduced RCS (rich communication services) messaging over the last 12 months. The app is designed to a universal messenger app, covering all bases so you can send out SMS, MMS or RCS messages from one app.
In a new unreleased version of that app, details have been uncovered suggesting that Google is going to be adding encryption to that service, meaning that those messages are then secure through transmission. That should be expected - and it's something that Apple's iMessage already offers.
Detailed by 9to5Google, the website breaks down the code strings found in the unreleased Google Messages app, suggesting that there might be extra protections in place if you're allowing other apps to access your messages. That should mean that you're alerted to the fact that what you thought were encrypted messages might be moving into an unencrypted environment.
Why does this all matter? Encryption is all about keeping your data secure. While encryption is often associated with keeping information secret, it's not hard to image a situation where you need to communicate secure information - like banking details - with a contact. Encryption will ensure that messages can't be hijacked by another app or while in transit and have someone get access to that information. It also should mean that Google doesn't have access to the content of those messages.
While encryption for emoji chats with your friends probably doesn't matter, what this might point to is wider integration of these sorts of technologies with other partners. Enabling RCS messaging with companies was part of the original outline of the service, so you need to know that both you and they are being secure with your information.
Of course, RCS is a data service, so to use it you need to have a good connection to the internet on your phone. Currently when using Google Messages for RCS you'll be able to go into live chat with someone when they are online, but if they have no data connection, sometimes, messages don't get delivered as you might expect.
What's not currently clear is how well this might work between different apps. There are a number of apps that offer messaging, with many - like Samsung - using its own app by default. Whether there will be integration of encryption across these different apps we don't know. It might be that everyone needs to use Google's own app to get that security.