Although the Messages feature presently has a 21-person limit, Google has finished bringing out end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for group conversations in beta.
In June 2021, Messages extensively implemented encryption for 1:1 RCS talks. Group discussions were introduced in December, but they are still only available to those who have downloaded the app’s open beta version.
E2EE is only accessible in group chats with 21 participants or less and turns off when a new member is added. It is not accessible in other forms of communication.
This group chat encryption cap for Messages was confirmed to us by Google today, who added that “the cap is part of the beta testing.” Reading between the lines, it may be the case that the corporation does have intentions to increase that cap once the feature is more publicly accessible.
In terms of the competition, iMessage groups can accommodate up to 32 users while Signal offers end-to-end encryption with a 1,000-character size limit for “New Group” talks.
RCS supports up to 100 users, whereas legacy SMS group conversations allow a maximum of 10. The current level of encrypted RCS group chat is an improvement over what it replaces, but compared to ordinary RCS groups and other contemporary messaging platforms, people — especially in family circumstances — can run into the 21-person restriction.