Google Warns Users It Plans to Remove SMS Texting From Hangouts

Google said it is removing carrier SMS texting as part of a broader effort to make Hangouts and Gmail more streamlined and useful for enterprises.

SMS Texting Tools

Organizations using the Short Message Service (SMS) functionality in Google’s Hangout application for Android will soon need to find another app for the functionality.

Effective May 22, Google will remove the carrier SMS functionality in Hangouts for Android. Administrators of enterprises affected by the move will soon receive notice of the impending change and will need to find a replacement for it.

In an announcement on the company’s G Suite Update blog Friday, Google described the move as part of a broader effort to make Hangouts and Gmail more streamlined and useful for enterprises.

It follows the company’s recent addition of a new Hangouts Meet video collaboration capability and a Hangout Chat feature with updated support for group chat and collaboration. As part of the same effort, Google also recently announced the developer preview of Gmail Add-ons, a feature designed to allow Gmail users to access other apps—like a CRM app—without leaving Gmail.

Over the next few weeks, SMS users on Hangouts for Android will receive messages instructing them to choose another app for their carrier text messaging needs. If the user does not have another SMS app already installed on their device, they will be directed to the Google Play store to find one there.

Moving to the new app will not affect messages in the existing SMS application. Users will still be able to access them from the new application, Google said. The change will not impact Google Voice and Project Fi users either. They can continue to use Hangouts as their SMS app, Google noted in its announcement.

Organizations and users will be free to choose any app they want to replace the carrier SMS functionality in Hangouts that is being pulled. But Google has made no secret of its hopes to make its Android Messages, the standard messaging app for Android users. The app supports multi media and SMS messaging capabilities and is Google’s implementation of the Rich Communication Service (RCS) messaging standard.

Google is currently working with more than two-dozen major carriers—with a combined base of over 1 billion Android users worldwide—to get them to make Android Messages the messaging standard for their subscribers. It is also working with several Android handset makers to get them to pre-install the app on their devices.

RCS messaging apps are SMS apps that have been tweaked to support many of the features offered by so-called over-the-top messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Such apps have begun taking SMS traffic away major carriers and RCS is an attempt to stem that tide.

In addition to pulling SMS from Hangouts, Google will also move Google Talk from Gmail to Hangouts effective June 26. After that date, Talk users within Gmail will be automatically moved to Hangout, unless Google has a contractual commitment to support the feature.

Hangouts, according to the company, offers a far superior experience to Google Talk especially with the recent introduction of Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat. “[So], it is now time to say goodbye to Google Talk,” the company said.

Also being phased out are two legacy Google+ functions in Gmail—Google+ Circles and the ability to email Google+ profiles.

Cumulatively, the changes announced this week will help Google prioritize and focus on features in G Suite that deliver the most benefit for users, the company said. “We realize these updates may be an inconvenience, so we aimed to minimize disruption and help you navigate the changes where possible.”

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.