It seems that Google can’t seem to make up its mind about its messaging solution, particularly when it comes to text (SMS) and multimedia messages (MMS). After deprecating Google Talk, and later Google Voice, in favor of its Hangouts brand and merging SMS features into it, insider sources are claiming that Google is making a U-turn, at least on the latter part. Developers are supposedly testing a version of the Hangouts Android app that was strangely divested of SMS and MMS functionality, leaving many to wonder what Google’s ultimate plan really is. At one point, it seemed that Google was building up Hangouts to be its unified, cross-platform, cross-service communication platform. It started out as a video chat and conferencing service but then covered instant messaging which it inherited from Google Talk. It then got SMS and MMS support last year. It would eventually get voice call support, a feature that would make it the app of choice on Google Project Fi service.
That said, Google has never really been solid on the SMS and MMS part. The initial implementation of the features were bug-ridden, though most have been ironed out by now. And while it Hangouts did have SMS support, it didn’t become the default SMS app on Android. In fact, Google would actually roll out a. new Messenger app just for that purpose.
At this point, If this rumor pans out, it would be a “what were they thinking” moment for Google. Perhaps it thinks that a dedicated SMS/MMS app would be better maintained than if bundled inside a bigger app like Hangouts. Or maybe Google’s vision of the future of messaging no longer includes plain old SMS and just Internet-based messaging and calling.
It’s a mind-boggling guessing game though how many users will be negatively impacted by this split is still unknown. The upcoming Hangouts will still retain voice calling features at least, which should put Project Fi users at ease.