Rumor: Google will be removing SMS texting from hangouts on may 22

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Google continues to shake up its messaging tools with the upcoming removal of a popular feature from Hangouts. According to an email sent to GSuite administrators and subsequently posted to Reddit, Google will remove the SMS messaging feature from Hangouts on May 22. Anyone using Hangouts as both a Google messaging app and their primary text messaging app won’t be able to send SMS texts after that date.

Hangouts users will be notified of this change via an in-app message starting March 27. You’ll be prompted to select a new default messaging app from your list of downloaded apps. If you don’t have anything other than Hangouts, you’ll be directed to the Google Play Store to download another messaging app. All of your existing SMS messages will not be affected and they will be available in your new default messaging app.

Google Voice users will also be affected, but not as much as Hangouts-only users. The rule only applies to messages sent and received with your carrier phone number—all SMS messages sent with your Google Voice number will remain unaffected. “For SMS users using Google Voice on Hangouts on Android Google Voice users who also send carrier SMS messages will need to choose another default messaging app. Their Google Voice messages will be unaffected and will still be available in Google Hangouts,” the email states. “For Google Voice users on Hangouts on Android Google Voice users who do not use carrier SMS text messaging will not be affected and no notification will be shown.”

This change comes just weeks after Google revealed its new plans to turn Hangouts into as a better workplace communications tool that apes Slack. The company is likely trying to remove any associations Hangouts has with traditional SMS messaging, so it can position Hangouts as more of a collaboration, sharing, and productivity app. But Google has a plethora of chat apps, so while Hangouts users may be annoyed at being forced out of their primary SMS app, they have other options. Arguably the best of those options would be Android Messages, Google’s renamed Messages app and the default RCS app for Android users, but there’s also the text-based app Allo and the mobile-only video chat app Duo as well.

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