Google’s encryption-breaking Magic Compose AI proves iPhone shouldn’t help RCS messaging

For years, Google has been dying to give you an iMessage equal, a key iPhone function that’s in all probability answerable for stealing loads of customers from Android. It took some time, however Google settled on RCS, a brand new commonplace that replaces SMS on Android units. Now Google is dying for Apple so as to add RCS help to the iPhone Messages app, so iMessages and RCS texts can coexist.

Ever since Google started its assault adverts, I’ve mentioned that Apple shouldn’t do it. The messaging downside is blown manner out of proportion, as loads of apps bridge the hole between Android and iPhone. WhatsApp is the perfect instance of that.

Quick-forward to late Could and Google simply shot itself within the foot relating to RCS. It seems the Magic Compose AI function that Google is constructing into Messages breaks encryption by sending messages again to Google’s servers. That’s an enormous downside, and it’s an ideal instance of why Apple ought to maintain RCS away from the iPhone.

When speaking about RCS, Google wasted no time at I/O 2023 to make enjoyable of Apple. Google touched on all of the RCS options, together with end-to-end encryption, earlier than taking thinly-veiled photographs at Apple, the iPhone, and iOS.

Sending high-quality photographs and video, getting typing notifications, and end-to-end encryption ought to all work. That’s why we’ve labored with our companions on upgrading outdated SMS and MMS expertise to a contemporary commonplace referred to as RCS that makes all of this potential.

And there are actually over 800 million folks with RCS on our method to over a billion by the tip of the 12 months. We hope each cellular working system will get the message and adopts RCS so we will all hand around in the group chat collectively, it doesn’t matter what machine we’re utilizing.

Then, Google demoed Magic Compose, a generative AI function coming to Google Messages sooner or later. We didn’t essentially want AI options in messages, however Google did its greatest to throw AI into all the things at I/O 2023.

How Magic Compose works inside Google Messages. Picture supply: Google

And we didn’t have to attend lengthy to check it. Generative AI is accessible inside Google Messages proper now, and Magic Compose is accessible as a beta. Android Police factors to a Google help web page that claims Magic Compose is accessible just for RCS conversations within the Messages app. That’s not a shock or an issue. It is smart for Google to improve RCS, particularly contemplating the rivalry with Apple’s iMessage.

Nonetheless, as Android Police factors out, Magic Compose breaks end-to-end encryption (E2EE). That’s one of many tentpole options of iMessage, Sign, WhatsApp, and different chat apps. A function that Google struggled to convey to RCS. However let’s not overlook that Google made some extent to say E2EE throughout the Messages phase at I/O 2023.

Google Messages' Magic Compose AI feature breaks encryption.
Google Messages’ Magic Compose AI function breaks encryption. Picture supply: Google

Sadly, Magic Compose can’t run on-device to generate responses. The Messages app will ship as much as 20 of your final messages to Google, so Magic Compose can do its factor. Google didn’t point out this evident concern throughout I/O, but it surely does disclose the issue within the help doc:

Google doesn’t retailer messages or use them to coach machine studying fashions. As much as 20 earlier messages, together with emojis, reactions, and URLs, are despatched to Google’s servers and solely used to make solutions related to your dialog. Messages with attachments, voice messages, and pictures aren’t despatched to Google servers, however picture captions and voice transcriptions could also be despatched.

Certain, you may keep away from enabling Magic Compose, because the Google Messages function is optionally available. However I fear many will simply allow the function with out contemplating the privateness implications.

That could be a large downside, I don’t care what number of excuses you make. Non-public messages are not personal. There needs to be no manner for an organization to interrupt E2EE on its messaging platforms. Even when it’s for next-gen generative AI options. And that is simply another reason why Apple shouldn’t add RCS help to its iMessage app.