Report: Hangouts to lose SMS integration, gain notable new features in next big update

by: Jimmy WestenbergDecember 16, 2015

best alternatives to FaceTime on Android

Google Hangouts has received tons of useful features over the past couple years, but one of the most popular ones might soon be removed. According to a new rumor from Phandroid, Hangouts will lose the ability to send and receive SMS and MMS messages in its next big update.

This feature made its way to Google’s messaging platform back in October 2013, and to be honest, it was pretty buggy when it first launched. Since then most of the major bugs have been squashed, making the overall experience quite pleasant for most users out there. At this time it’s not clear as to why Google has plans to remove this feature, though it wouldn’t surprise us if the company wanted to simplify the messaging experience on Android. After all, Google surprisingly released a new SMS application called Messenger back in 2014 with the launch of the Nexus 6, leaving users confused as to which messaging app they should use.

According to the report, Google employees are currently testing this unreleased build of Hangouts. It will supposedly have a prompt urging users to try out the Google Messenger app. After all, Messenger is pretty customizable, and in my experience, a much more bug-free application. The report also states that Google Voice users will still be able to message within Hangouts. Only carrier SMS messaging will get the axe.

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It’s not all bad news, though. This new version of Hangouts will reportedly also gain a few new features that have been requested by users for quite some time. For starters, Hangouts will supposedly get quick reply functionality from notifications in the new update. This feature has been available on Google Messenger for some time, and it just rolled out to Hangouts for iOS not too long ago. The new update will also bring with it the ability to place a shortcut to a specific Hangouts conversation on your home screen. It’s not the most groundbreaking new feature, but it’s still nice to have.

Since this is just a rumor for now, we need to remember to take this news with a grain of salt. It’s certainly not the best news we’ve heard in the past, though if you think about it, there’s nothing wrong with Google wanting to simplify the messaging experience on Android. So with all that said, does this rumor have you upset? Be sure to speak up in the comment section below.

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  • Matt

    I wish they’d integrate instant messaging into Google Messenger and use phone numbers alone to recognise when two people are using the app. The app has the design, but not the functionality that I’d like to see and use.

  • D C

    It got tedious having to switch between Hangout and SMS threads and I just separated the 2 eventually. The only reason I would have wanted both integrated is the ability to backup a record of SMS in Hangouts, but since that was never an option there was no point in integrating the 2 for me.

  • Adam

    where does google voice end up in all this switching around?

    • Andrew M

      The article mentioned that google voice (project fi I’m assuming) will still continue to use sms in hangouts. Only the carrier sms (verizone, at&t, etc) will get sacked from hangouts.

      • pocketdrummer

        So now I’ll have to convince everyone I know not to use the number they use to call me when they want to text me? That’s retarded. Why don’t they just fix the buggy mess they’ve created and not remove critical features from the app?

        • smokebomb

          Just move everyone to Google voice.

    • blanco112

      I waited a few years for hangouts to finally handle Google Voice SMS and group messaging only to have rug pulled out from under my feet it seems.

      • gladia

        But it states that nothing’s gonna change for texts on Google Voice?

  • I will probably stop using hangouts if they do that. I don’t want to need two apps for messaging. Google is slipping. I already abandoned the nexus line after the loss of wireless charging. The way they are going I may switch to an iPhone soon

    • Adam

      Switching to iPhone for wireless charging?

      • No I bought a v10 and added wireless charging. But if they keep removing the reasons I like Android. I might as well switch to an iPhone since my family all use them and I would be able to face time. And use imessage which integrates SMS mms and im in one app. I think Google is looking focus. Look at the terrible pixel tablet.

        • WhoaManWtF

          I have thought about it a few times lately, I even did switch to the 6 plus when it came out last year and rocked it for a while before picking up a Note 5. I couldn’t do it but even then I have been eyeing the 6S Plus with the new specs.

    • Bigsteamer

      But imessage cannot be installed on android devices. Hangouts can be installed iphones.

      • So I’m the only one in my family not using an iPhone. The only people I use hangouts with are guys from work and I an easily dump hangouts for SMS with them.

  • dc

    in my opinion, this is a horrible idea. I love the fact that they’re integrated cause it’s easy. I’ve been waiting for them to allow SMS through Hangouts on gmail on the web and now this rumor is in the other direction. really hope they don’t do this, just make sms/mms on hangouts work better (like people say it does in Messenger) and then get rid of Messenger. Forcing us to use two apps does not simplify any experience.

    • mjmedstarved


    • playingwithplato

      You can SMS through Hangouts on gmail as well as on the Hangouts stand alone desktop app.

  • Tarso Sousa

    Would be great to see Google to support dual-sim smartphones with the Messenger app, now that android support dual sim natively

  • NamelessStar

    oucn, the SMS feature is the one i actually use hope it doesn’t go away.

    • mjmedstarved

      Same here. What good is hangouts without SMS?!

      • PNWtech

        I’ve been using whatsapp for work messaging and I like it. Has a nice polished feel. Looks like I will be making the personal switch from hangouts

        • mjmedstarved

          I sit at a desk all day and loved the gmail integration when texting people…. that doesn’t fix that. :/

          Thanks though.

        • NamelessStar

          whatsapp wont help those who refuse to use it, the only good hangouts did is combine items i didnt want separate apps to deal with…. got too many on my list now from whatsapp BBM sms and hangouts this change will annoy me.

          • PNWtech

            Yeah I realized after I posted that whatsapp is not a good replacement for SMS. Gonna try Google messenger I guess

  • Pride

    So looks like I’m removing hangouts only reason I used hangouts cause I can send multiple pics at once, I don’t know anyone that uses hangouts anyways it’s shit other then that integration

  • The Watson

    Odd I posted a Hangouts related issue over a week ago. It was about garbled texts to non Google users. I also went on a rant. Apparently they have listened. ICQ had its time and so has Hangouts. If ICQ messenger had integrated sms & voice, would it still be popular? No.. Go back to GV in voice or merge it into messenger. Hangouts can be my “Skype & IM” client. I use voice app & widget daily. Just something about Hangouts I don’t like. Strange gui, weird behavior, etc…

    • LastManStranded

      Voice has a terrible interface. So clunky, ugly and outdated. Lol

  • It sucks, I was getting used to the sms integration and now I got to install again the sms app? More apps, less resources, so not good Google!

  • JSA1

    I text, but a handful of ppl. Most of my friends realize that sms is dead. Hangouts integration made sense for me. I honestly don’t want to use a separate app for this now…

    • Arturo Raygoza

      SMS isn’t dead, its alive and kicking.

  • Michael Carr

    I know this will affect a lot of users, but I don’t particularly mind. I’ve been using Messenger for a while anyway, and I like that I can keep the two apps separately customized and (occasionally) guess based on the notification sound which conversation I just got a reply for.

    ‘Sides, I mostly use Hangouts as a pure Google Talk client, conversing not just on my phone but on my PC, as well; I find it easier to manage which conversations are SMS based when they’re kept separate.

    Sorry to the users that liked Hangouts’ SMS support, though. :/

    • Pascal Bouffard

      But why do you need to keep them separate?

      • Michael Carr

        It’s not that I *need* to; I just like it that way, partially because it helps me mentally manage conversations just a little easier.

        I would be okay with having merged Hangouts and SMS threads if it was necessary – heck, I’d *welcome* it if Google had allowed for SMS syncing with other (non-phone) devices running Hangouts.

        Alas, that is seemingly not to be.

  • Darius Gowans

    Hmmm ……. I wonder if this has anything to do with that jibe mobile acquisition a couple of months ago?

  • MY

    What that hell?? I hope that this ain’t a true rumor because than I’ll never use hangout. I only use hangout because of SMS/MMS. If that happens, it will be a huge thumbs down period.

    • Willem Downey

      Dude, if you don’t use Hangouts for Hangouts Messaging just use Google Messenger anyway…

  • nikitastaf1996

    One more useless app.Never used Hangouts as Hangouts.

  • TJ

    Good riddance! I guess since the spying program allegedly ended, there’s no use for it now.

    • Arturo Raygoza

      Spying programs never end

  • LastManStranded

    Take away a major feature, replace it with minor features. Quick reply is cool but its not a huge feature. Lol

  • tgelhardt

    So SMS/MMS is pretty much all I use. The integration is how I am able to use my Google Voice number (which is the only number I have personally) in Hangouts, what will I do now?

  • Richard Branches

    What I really want in hangouts is to be able to delete contacts!! people I don’t want to hide or block but to delete for good!!!

  • Techngro

    What’s the point of having the features like quick reply and shortcuts to conversations if I can’t text through the app? I don’t know how many people use the app for hangouts exclusively, but I for one rarely do hangouts. But I do use the app for ALL of my texting.

    This would be a dumb move by Google and for seemingly no reason whatsoever.

    • TechnoRealz

      Hangout will be used exclusively for GV functionalities.
      mg Messenger will be used for carrier SMS/MMS.

      • Techngro

        But why split them up? They were doing just fine as one app? Why, when technology is supposed to be making our lives easier does Google want to make us install TWO apps to get the functionality of the ONE that we already have?

        Just doesn’t make much sense to me.

        • TechnoRealz

          Most likely Hangouts was too much too much of a headache to take care with all the stuff it was trying to do along with the focus on Fi.

          Intermittent MMS outages. Buggy delivery and receipts.
          GV issues.
          Essentially I see them making Hangout a GV/Fi product and Messenger a good ole SMS/MMS only app.

          • Techngro

            I personally never had any problems with Hangouts. I’m sure others may have though. But every app has bugs. They just need to work on them like other developers do.

            But I seriously hope that they reconsider. I have never even installed the Messenger app, and I don’t see myself switching to two apps.

          • Willem Downey

            I’ve tried the Messenger app, and it was pretty good, used it for SMS alongside hangouts which I used to video chat with my friends. After thinking about it, though, I uninstalled Messenger and now I use Hangouts for ALL the messaging. I would really be sad if Google removed SMS from Hangouts

            Like Google, c’mon, I know you want to promote your new software but don’t force it on me by removing functionality from an app I already use…

  • zyper95

    I like the idea what Googke wanted to simplify one messaging app and to differentiate from the others. However this news will not be suiable to other android users who are unable to use the Messenger app on dual sim phones. I guess Google address this first as there are alot of mobile devices right now are into dual sims.

  • C Lo

    The only reason I use hangouts is because it acts similarly to iMessage where both hangouts and sms messages are in one spot. Without SMS, I will not use hangouts anymore.

    • Bigsteamer

      Unlike imessage, hangouts can be installed on iphones. Maybe you need a Priv so you can use blackberry’s hub feature where all messages, emails etc are in one spot.

  • Arturo Raygoza

    Just activated messenger, I don’t have a reason to use hangouts. SMS exclusively

  • TonyVee73

    Phandroid also mentioned that Google Voice SMS/MMS will still work in Hangouts.

  • TonyVee73

    I wish Google would integrate Google Voice into Google Messenger.

  • pocketdrummer

    What an incredibly stupid decision. This is in the same vein as splitting up Wallet. Why does Google think it would be better to have two apps do the job of one!?

  • Dan L

    I have used hangouts as my main sms app for 2 years, I really hope they don’t take that away.

  • DiGrifter

    I don’t SMS often, but I like to keep everything grouped together in Hangonts…

  • AllPurposeRadio

    Don’t get me wrong I like and use Messenger. It’s fully functional and stable. But customizable is the last word I’d use to describe it.

  • interstellarmind

    What a terrible idea by Google (if indeed this rumor turns out to be true). I would like ONE app for sms, mms, and Google hangouts.

    In fact I think the ideal would be in the opposite direction of fracturing the messaging experience: ONE app that handles phone calls, email, sms, hangouts.

  • Matthew Dorris

    This will make me so mad if it’s true

  • Bigsteamer

    Anyone that doesn’t like hangouts must not have a tablet. Hangouts is also great as you only need a wifi connection. My 7 year old daughter uses my old S4 to hangout with her cousin and a couple of aunties. Throw in free wifi calling and video calls, what’s not to like?

  • Bob

    Man, hangouts is my daily sms driver hopefully they don’t take this feature away

  • Harnorizer Mbuta

    If Google removes the sms feature, what the hell good will hangouts be then? That’s basically what I use it for.

  • oqo

    Huh, when will they bring back online status indication?

  • gladia

    At least nothing’s gonna change for Google Voice, I hope.

  • Christopher Woodhouse

    I use both apps, and while I love many aspects of Hangouts (especially Voip and Video), it seems like it would be cleaner if they just folded Hangouts MMS and Video call into Messenger an be done with it.

  • Krissh Nexus

    There’s nothing confusion with having both sms and on line text. I’m a guy who loves all in one app. Google its a bad move if you are planning to remove sms.

  • NaJaKwa

    I love this feature. I still use a Google Voice number as my primary text and call number. Using Hangouts for everything made it dead simple. Just fix the dialer.

  • )(db)(

    Dam it..hangouts links all my phones numbers together threw Google voice were I receive all text & calls through hangouts..on my cell
    It’s seems .google soldout it’s customers just like att A.T.T. sold the Germans in ww2. There at the time advanced telecommunications phone line…also like Ford ..Henry sold Germany motors to put in sherman tanks & jeeps..then sued United States for blowing up his factory & won…corporate sellouts…that is like with most all small company’s when they grow to beccome.. large corporations to buy protection from our new age mafia that resides on capital hill ..Google has sold the American people already by storing data, not paying it’s share of taxs,an filtering & censoring their search engine tonot pull up all info on search..
    Until Americans learn if it’s not too late …we best stop doing business with a company or retailer or any business who don’t support True American culture. ..Liberty. ..not safety. .constitutional rights in the constitutional republic. We are Not democracy

  • thecodye

    Honestly, doesn’t effect me. Project Fi SMS will stay

  • Exhack2

    I think it’s a really bad idea. All my friends who live locally use Hangouts this way. This includes my wife!

  • smokebomb

    This isn’t a huge deal for me. I’ll just move my contacts back to my Google voice number.

  • Martin Bodlák

    I would like to see Google start adding support for dual SIM mobiles. Like SMS: send from which SIM? show SMSs from which SIM? Or call history, contacts – simply all those phone related features which are not used that much with current phones :) but which are still there. And yes, I know SIM cards will probably not survive 2020 but for now, they are still with us.

  • Geraldo Selvia


  • TechMan Ethan

    Before the last major update, Hangouts had a widget where you could scroll throough your conversations then tap one and it would open the app to the conversation. I use hangouts too much for it to lose SMS. But I will try out the other messenger too.

  • Tran Nguyen

    I think that the Google Messenger should use for family, closed friends who is not relate to G Plus. G Plus, YouTube and business needs the Hangout app to communicate as needed. All Messenger app and Hangout should have same functions. Add Hangout to Google Slide, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google My Business, Google Map. I don’t want the Google Messenger has the long contact list.

    • Willem Downey

      excuse me but what are you saying your english is so bad

      • Tran Nguyen

        Did my second English bother you and made you got mad ? Don’t read it and quit your racist because the racism is the dark side of humanity. I think that you should learn the other language to understand them and bring peace to all.

  • Infidel Gastro

    The only point to having Hangouts installed was for it’s SMS integration. If they remove it then it just becomes another redundant app.

    • Bigsteamer

      Except for the fact you can video call and use hangouts dialer for free on wifi

      • Willem Downey

        love that stuff :D

  • James Scholes

    Just got a notification to “Check out Google’s new SMS app”. HL3 confirmed.

  • MvE

    Welp, what a pain in the butt this is going to be. I can see adoption go away as most people I text with don’t use messenger at all and will now have no reason to switch over, especially if not on Android. Glad to hear I can still use Google Voice integration, but my girlfriend will be out of luck and have to switch between apps to talk to me. I’m curious if the Chrome app will also lose this functionality?

  • Evil Nick

    Just please do something good with VOICE, its the best component you have, oh and GET FIBER nationwide!

  • Willem Downey

    Noooooooooooooo I don’t wanna use a different app for SMS than I do for video chat D:

  • Gibbler

    I am so tired of all these changes being forced on us. My phone is turned off permanently now as of three days ago. Done with it. Next one will be an iphone in a few months. For now I don’t need a cell. Home phone is fine.

  • samir

    plz tellme kaise pata chalega ki kis sim ka msg hai