Google removing Hangouts’ SMS messaging

Google is removing the ability to send and receive SMS messages from its Hangouts service in May, according to an email sent to its G Suite administrators. The email, posted in its entirety on Reddit, says that Google will cut the option from the app on May 22nd, and will prompt users to find a new default messaging service beforehand.

Users of Hangouts’ Android app will see a message from March 27th informing them of the upcoming removal of SMS functions. If they have another chat app installed, Hangouts will ask them to select it as the default; if they don’t, the app will direct them to the Google Play Store to find a new alternative. For Google Voice users, it’s a little more complicated: people who send carrier SMS messages via Hangouts will no longer have the option to do so from May 22nd, but those who just send SMS via their Google Voice numbers will be able to continue as before.

The change comes as Google shifts Hangouts’ focus, repositioning the messaging service to take on workplace communications tool Slack. While the removal of a feature isn’t usually cause for celebration, it’s probably a wise move in a world where Google already has a dizzying array of chat apps — including mobile-only video-centric Duo, text-based chat app Allo, and the recently announced Android Messages. It’s this last app that’s designed to handle Google’s consumer SMS service, and it’s probably a good idea to download it now, ahead of time, if you’re still using Hangouts for your texts.

Rich McCormick

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