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article imageGoogle to remove Hangouts' SMS features to help promote new apps

By James Walker     Mar 24, 2017 in Technology
Google is planning to remove Hangouts' SMS messaging capabilities within the next couple of months. The company is believed to be making the move as part of its efforts to make Hangouts a better rival to upstart messaging app Slack.
Google announced a complete overhaul of its Hangouts brand earlier this month, launching new "Hangouts Meet" and "Hangouts Chat" apps aimed at enterprise customers. For now, the current version of Hangouts remains available for consumers but Google is promoting the use of its Allo and Duo apps.
Part of Hangouts' popularity is down to its ability to send and receive SMS messages. This has traditionally made it the ideal default messaging app for people who regularly text and use Google services. According to an email being sent by Google to G Suite Administrators, since uploaded to Reddit, this feature will soon be removed.
Google plans to discontinue Hangouts' carrier-billed SMS text messaging support on May 22nd, 2017. Users will be informed of the change and prompted to select a different messaging app as their default SMS provider. If no appropriate app is installed, a new one will need to be downloaded from Google Play.
People who currently use Google Voice for sending and receiving SMS messages will not be affected. Google will continue to support Voice's SMS capabilities and is only targeting users who rely on Hangouts to send messages over their cellular connection. It's all part of the company's plan to pitch Hangouts as a workplace communications tool to rival Slack and Microsoft Teams.
Google currently has an extensive line-up of messaging apps that each overlap in some way. The company has separated calling and texting into different apps and then created new products for enterprise and business customers. The old ones are still active though, leaving you to choose between Android Messages, Allo, Duo, Hangouts, Hangouts Meet, Hangouts Chat or Google Voice depending on your use case. In short, it's confusing so Google is adding or removing capabilities to make each app's purpose clearer.
Hangouts is no longer pitched as a general-purpose app for consumers and has been removed from the standard Android image installed on new phones. The company is still struggling to convince the app's users to make the switch to Allo and Duo, its new consumer-friendly replacement products.
Hangouts has a large and loyal audience of fans who rely on its advanced features and strong integration with platform capabilities like SMS. In contrast, Allo and Duo are bare-bones apps that aren't being picked up in the way Google had anticipated.
If you currently use Hangouts as your default SMS app, Google now expects you to install Android Messages instead. In another questionable decision, Google has opted not to bake SMS support into Allo, generally its preferred consumer messaging app. Instead, it made yet another app to promote its RCS messaging protocol, a standard meant to supersede SMS. Android Messages will now be preinstalled on many phones that once shipped with Hangouts.
More about Google, Hangouts, Sms, Messaging, allo
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