When Hangouts was launched, it was all that we hoped for. Android finally had a unified messaging service which swallowed up all of the fragmented services that Google offered had offered previously. Hangouts even offered an iOS application, meaning Hangouts was truly cross-platform.
But one glaring omission from the Hangouts application which made it slightly inferior to Apple’s iMessage application, was its lack of support for SMS. However, it looks like the wait may be temporary, according to the permissions list in the Google Play Store.
One eagle-eyed user Kenny Strawn, who clearly reads that permissions page many of us are guilty of skipping, found that Google was already asking for the permission to read and send text messages. This could mean that the feature could roll out in an update and is still currently being worked on.
If Hangouts had support for SMS, then you would be able to send messages to people who aren’t using the application. This is one of iMessages biggest features, and it would put Hangouts as the premier messaging application, as you wouldn’t need to have your friends on Hangouts to message them. This would help you slowly wean your friends and family off of their 20th century ways.
Of course Google is already using SMS in Hangouts, but only in emerging markets, as TechCrunch reports:
Google tells us that in some countries, feature phone users, but not smartphone users, can participate in Hangouts via SMS. This should help it reach more people in the developing world, a core area for growth of messaging apps.
Looking to clear the air, Google Hangouts Community Manager Dori Storbeck, confirmed on Google Plus that SMS support for Hangouts is coming, but gave no definite time frame for the arrival of the feature. But Storbeck did say it was the most requested feature, so it shouldn’t take Google to roll out the feature.
There are also claims on Google Plus, that those in the U.S. may already have SMS capabilities. One Google Plus user said:
It already works, kind of, go to settings, SMS for Hangouts, click the box to send sms, and you are all set.. If you are in the US, you need to click on GUAM as your country.
These claims are as yet unconfirmed, and it may have something to do with the aforementioned support for SMS in developing countries. This would mean that the change would allow you to recieve text messages, but not send them. Of course this is still speculation, and the main thing we can get out of all of this, is that SMS support is coming to all of us very soon.
How is the new application working for you? Is SMS support a big deal?