Google on Monday advised SMS app developers to get their apps in order for the arrival of Android 4.4 KitKat, which will let users select their “default SMS app.”
The company did not reveal when Android 4.4 KitKat will be released, although it did say it’s coming “later this year.” Furthermore, Google did not mention whether Hangouts will get SMS and MMS support in Android 4.4, as it’s currently rumored.
However, it’s clear that Google plans some changes for SMS apps, which is why it’s making sure developers update their apps accordingly.
Developers will have to update their apps to make sure they work properly in Android 4.4, as only one app will become the default SMS app – which means just one app will be able to both send and receive SMS messages.
Other installed SMS apps will be able to only receive the same messages, but will not have the power to send messages – until the user selects the app as a default SMS app, that is.
Developers are encouraged to turn off features of their apps when they’re not selected as the default SMS app on a device, and to offer users a quick prompt allowing them to change the default SMS app if the app in use on the device is not the default SMS app.
The SMS changes in Android 4.4 may be related to Hangouts getting SMS support, but they may also be related to preventing malware apps from silently sending SMS messages to premium numbers at the expense of the unsuspecting user, since just one app will be able to send SMS messages.
In its detailed post on Android Developers, Google is offering specific information to SMS app developers about the coming changes, so in case you have one such app in the Google Play store, you may want to make sure it’s ready for the Android 4.4 update.
Google also noted that it will “soon” provide the Android 4.4 SDK components to SMS app developers in order for them to update their apps “as soon as possible.”
With all that in mind, we can only assume that Android 4.4 KitKat won’t be unveiled tomorrow, as some recent rumors suggested, but we’ll certainly keep our ears to the ground for more KitKat news for you.