Google’s Hangout messaging app (formerly Google Talk) for Android may be following in the footsteps of Apple’s iMessage by integrating SMS and MMS text messaging.
The word comes via Android Police, citing sources “familiar with the matter” and a number of screenshots sourced from Hangouts version 1.3 which is currently in development. This means that, just like iMessage on iOS, you’ll use the same app for texting via your SIM card and sending instant messaging through either Wi-Fi or mobile data.
Google already merged Google Talk and Google+ Messenger into the Hangout app, complete with video calling, but now SMS and MMS are getting incorporated too, including video and picture sharing on MMS.
According to reports, messages sent via SMS will show “via SMS” after the message. The screenshots include a settings menu with a “wireless alerts” section and toggles for auto-retrieve MMS and auto-retrieve while roaming. There’s also an option to switch SMS off for Hangouts entirely.
This last point suggests the whole affair may not be replacing Android’s conventional Messaging app, as Android Police’s Artem Russakovskii observes.
“Originally, I suggested that the stock Messaging app may be going away in favor of Hangouts, at least on Nexus devices. I am unable to confirm it at this time and won’t be able to until we see final KitKat software. However, if I were to speculate, I would suggest that the Messaging app will remain in AOSP, but Nexus devices will skip it and ship with just Hangouts pre-installed. Once again, this part is speculation on my part.”
In terms of when we can expect to see such changes, there’s no indication whatsoever. It’s possible that the update to Hangouts will come in tandem with the launch of Android 4.4 KitKat but it’s equally possible it could arrive before or after.
The main picture for this article shows the two screenshots leaked to Android Police along with a mockup the site put together based on them.