End-to-end encryption is the reason why the majority of us use third-party messaging apps like Telegram and WhatsApp. Now the feature is available on the native Android Messages app by Google.
If you want to resort to in-built apps and ditch WhatsApp due to privacy concerns, then Android Messages might help you in this regard. Google had announced the new feature sometime last year and was available to beta testers.
Recently, Google made it available to all users. However, end-to-end encryption needs to be enabled from the app before you can use it.
According to Google,
When you use the Messages app to send end-to-end encrypted messages, all chats, including their text and any files or media, are encrypted as the data travels between devices. Encryption converts data into scrambled text. The unreadable text can only be decoded with a secret key.
If you are unfamiliar with how encryption works, the secret key is nothing but a number generated that is only available on your and the recipient’s device. Once they serve their purpose, they are deleted forever. What it means is that only you and the recipient can decrypt the messages, thus avoiding all forms of eavesdropping.
As of now, Android Messages only supports end-to-end encryption in individual chats, leaving group messages vulnerable to prying eyes. If you want to use the feature, you and the recipient need to have the feature enabled on their Android Messages app and have the chat feature enabled.
Enabling the chat feature helps you send messages either over Wi-Fi or as an SMS/MMS. If your texts appear dark blue instead of light blue, you already have the chat features enabled. The option can be found via in-app Settings>Chat Features> Enable Chat Features.
If you see a lock icon below the paper airplane button, your chat is already encrypted. Even if one of you disables encryption, then it will be disabled for both of you.