In what looks to be a clear attempt to phase out the old Hangouts and turn it into a more business-specific app, Google is now reportedly removing the app's SMS capabilities. The new change will take effect in May, according to an email sent out to G Suite administrators.
The email, which was posted on Reddit, says that support for SMS texts sent and received from carrier phone numbers will be stopped on May 22. To notify users of this change, Google will reportedly send out a message in Hangouts for Android from March 27 informing them of the change and prompting them to choose an alternative default messaging app. In case one doesn't have an alternative, Google will direct users to its Play Store to look for an alternative.
Notably, those who send SMS through Google Voice numbers and not through carriers will be able to continue to do so post May 22 and will not receive any notification. Non-SMS users on Hangouts who do not have the app on default will not see any notification either.
Google is trying to revamp Hangouts and turn it into a platform for enterprises, having it directly compete with Slack and Microsoft's Team. The company earlier this month rolled Hangouts Meet video conferencing service along with text-based messaging service Hangout Chat.
Turning hangouts into a team messaging service for enterprise allows Google to push its other messaging apps to the forefront. The company already has a confusing number of messaging apps including Allo, video calling app Duo, and Android Messages.