Last month, we were the first to report that Google plans to remove SMS functionality from Hangouts. This report left a lot of Android fans feeling very frustrated. Google’s messaging situation has always been a mess, but SMS in Hangouts made it a tiny bit better. It felt like the natural answer to Apple’s iMessage. Google has other plans.
The latest update for Hangouts (7.0) seems to confirm our report. Many users are seeing a message that prompts them to “Check out Google’s new SMS app.” The message includes a direct link to the Messenger app in the Play Store. Google’s “new SMS app” is actually quite old, as it was first released with Android Lollipop. This would be strange timing for Google to suddenly decide to promote the Messenger app. This is clearly a step in migrating SMS users away from Hangouts.
For now, Google can’t completely remove SMS from Hangouts since Project Fi users rely on it. We wouldn’t be surprised to see Google come out with a way for Project Fi users to send SMS outside of the Hangouts app. With Google IO still a few months away, there is plenty of time for Google to try yet again to fix their messaging problem. Android desperately needs an alternative to iMessage.
How do you feel about the uncoupling of SMS and Hangouts? What app do you use for SMS?