Hangouts’ most recent update is suspiciously urging users to download Google Messenger for sending SMS text messages. A note from Google pops up prompting users to give its “new SMS app” a go.
Last month was rife with speculations about the Mountain View-based firm possibly preparing to get rid of the SMS feature from Hangouts. This left quite a few Android users annoyed.
Fast forward to today, it looks like this is more than just a rumor. Even though Hangouts 7.0 does not take out this functionality (yet), it recommends users to “check out Google’s new SMS app.” The message even comes with the direct link to the Messenger app in the Play Store.
Actually, the “new SMS app” Google is referring to on its note is already a little old – it had been initially rolled out alongside the release of Android Lollipop.
Phandroid notes on its report that what strikes Google’s promotion of the Messenger app as odd is the timing.
“This is clearly a step in migrating SMS users away from Hangouts,” it says.
Meanwhile, Android Police is convinced that the message is terribly "suspicious."
“If Google were committed to SMS in Hangouts, why push people to use Messenger?” it points out.
The Messenger, according to Google, provides a service that sends "simple, fast SMS text messages.”
The popup will surface when users initially launch the up-to-date app.
In the meantime, the updated Hangouts version packs in a carousel of new features.
Among the most noteworthy additions is the "quick reply" feature, something users have long been clamoring for. Both the Messenger and Hangouts' iOS app have had this nifty feature for a few months months already. When a message arrives, one has to simply tap a reply button on the notification, and a reply bubble appears so users can type and send a reply without having to open the app. Users who prefer to compose the reply on the full-blown app (instead of the quick reply option) can simply tap on the button found on the top right.
You can download Hangouts 7.0 via APK Mirror.