If you use Google Hangouts to send & receive SMS, you won’t be able to do it after May 22. As per an email sent to G Suite Administrators, and posted on Reddit, Google will be removing the SMS feature from Hangouts on May 22.
Staring March 27, Hangouts users will get an in-app notification about the removal of SMS features. You’ll be prompted to select another chat app as the default app for sending & receiving SMS. If you don’t have any other chat apps installed, you’ll be directed to Play Store, where you can download an alternative.
If you’re a Google Voice user, then you won’t be able to send SMS using your carrier mobile number. You will be able to send SMS via your Google Voice Number, as before.
At this point, Google has so many chat apps (Hangouts – now split into Chats & Meet, Gtalk, Allo, Duo, Android Messaging), it’s not clear what they’re trying to build.
It’s understandable that Google wants to orient their chat apps (especially Google Hangouts) to be more enterprise-friendly like Slack. However, this is leading to many short-lived apps without proper vision or product road-map. Every year you see a bunch of Google apps being launched which gets millions of users and then many get shut down or feature-trimmed. Gtalk being the latest victim to be shut down, in favor Google Hangouts.
This only causes a lot of inconvenience for business customers who not only pay for these apps but also use them to build their network of contacts, leads and customers. Businesses start using a chat app because of the features it provides, and build their contacts around it. Every time you switch your chat app, you have to start from ground up, and also make your customers move to the new app.
Hangouts users will frustrated about the move, but there are alternatives available. If you prefer to stay within the Google ecosystem, you can go for Andoid Messages (previously Google Messenger), text-based Allo, or video-based Duo.
If you don’t want to use Google Apps for SMS, here’s a list of alternatives.