Google seems to be re-positioning Hangouts to take on the team communication tool Slack. Recently, the search giant emailed all the members of its G Suite team to inform them about ending SMS support in Hangouts starting May 22.
How the change affects Hangouts users
In its email posted on Reddit, the search giant says that it announced multiple improvements to Hangouts’ most popular features last year, like better group chat messaging and the new video meetings experience.
“As part of that ongoing effort, we will be removing carrier SMS text messaging from Hangouts on Android after May 22, 2017,” the email reads.
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Users who have enabled Hangouts as their default SMS app will be notified of the change starting March 27. People using Hangouts SMS will be directed to set another chat app as the default SMS application. Google will redirect users who do not have any SMS app pre-installed to download one from the Play Store.
It is a little different for people using Google Voice. These users won’t be able to send carrier SMS messages through Hangouts starting May 22, but they will be allowed to send SMS through their Google Voice numbers, just like before. If you have not enabled Hangouts as the default SMS messenger app on your device and you do not use Google Voice, you will not be affected and will receive no notification about the change.
Google aiming at corporate customers
Hangouts for Android was released in May 2013, and it has not changed much since then. For some users, Hangouts is irreplaceable because it is easy to use, it syncs all your messages and it goes wherever you go, like you can sync it with your Gmail or use it on the web through hangouts.google.com. These users will be somewhat disappointed, as now they will need one more app for SMS.
This move seems to be a part of Google’s ongoing efforts to expand its presence in the enterprise segment. Recently, the search giant released Hangouts Meet for corporate video conferencing. It is already getting enough competition from the likes of Slack, Microsoft’s Teams and Skype in the enterprise segment.
Google is already represented by a variety of chat apps like the text-based chat app Allo, the mobile-only video-centric Duo and Android Messages. Android Messages, which was announced only recently, is designed to manage Google’s consumer SMS service. Now you can download it to make it your default SMS app.