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SMS Changes Coming in Kit Kat, Google Tips Message App Developers to Make Changes Now

sms kitkat

When Google unveiled Hangouts during Google I/O as its first step towards a unified, cross-platform and cross-product messaging client, the tech world took its best guess as to when Hangouts would also power SMS and MMS messages, leaving Google Voice in the dust. We were given confirmation that this would all happen at some point, but here we are some five months later without Google fully going that route.

As the arrival of Android 4.4 “Kit Kat” nears, we have seen additional rumors point to this all finally happening, we just still don’t know exactly when or how. Will Hangouts remove Messaging altogether? Will full SMS and MMS integration into Hangouts be a Kit Kat-only feature? 

If the latest post on the official Android Developers Blog gives us anything, it’s a confirmation that there are big changes coming to the handling of SMS, MMS, and default SMS apps in Android 4.4.

According to this post, Google is asking SMS app developers to make needed changes to their apps so that they can still function properly in Kit Kat. In Android 4.4, only one app can be setup as the “default” and receive the new SMS_DELIVER_ACTION intent and write (send) to SMS Provider. In other words, only one app can be the default for sending and receiving SMS and MMS messages. Developers have been asked to setup their apps with the option of being used as the default SMS app.

The dirty details on making this change are all laid out at the source link below.

It just looks to me that right now, Google wants there to be more power and integration with SMS apps, whether that be Hangouts or something from a 3rd party developer. Rather than 3rd party apps funneling text messages through the stock text app, this sounds as if it will give them the power to send them out by themselves. Goodbye, need for a stock Messaging app?

Since I am by no means a developer, I’ll have to leave the rest of the speculation on this move to the devs in the building.

Via:  Android Developers Blog

Cheers Ryan and Shane!

  • Attacks can be cured. But goodwill can’t be. Think.

  • Thank so much for all.

  • Sanders

    Reading through the dev docs, there is nothing to suggest changes to the built-in SMS apps. Google is just now requiring that only one app be able to send SMS. This is to bring it in line with how telephony works.

  • Stephen Cox

    So, I’m confused. Hangouts is a Google service, right? Isn’t messaging is an app with the core build of Android?

    So does that mean that core Android (without gapps) won’t have a way to SMS anymore? This doesn’t make any sense.

    • Chris

      in Googles mind no one texts anymore. its all messenging services or “hang
      outs” The only hangout I’ll do is in person.

  • aDROIDfreeworld

    the fact that you still have to route MMS messages through the stock app effectively makes this nothing more than skin.

  • Sorry not a fan of 3rd party messaging apps. I just want to send a basic text and media messgae. Nothing else is needed. the stock app works just fine.

  • drt054

    Just make it as customizable as Handcent SMS Pro and that will be good..

  • There might is more to this “Default SMS App” UI Dialogue window.

    Perhaps it be OS wide with also choices for Default Keyboard, Dialer
    (there is VOIP e.g. Skype and O2 Tu Go), Calendar, Default Launcher and so on

  • trentonjw

    Google Voice integrated into dialer and SMS/Hangouts

  • MafiaMM

    Sliding Messaging!

  • Stephen D

    I don’t use Hangouts very often, but the interface is really nice and I’m never opposed to integration like this.

  • Marcus

    Am i understanding this correctly? in kit kat your account will be linked to google hangouts and that will be your new sms?

    • Only if you set Hangouts as your default SMS app. I’ve no doubt that Google will be splitting out the messaging app out (like it has been doing with other apps, e.g. the keyboard) or Hangouts will be included and if you want something else you can download another (3rd party) app from the Play Store.

  • TheWenger

    They didn’t say anything about it being part of the support library or Play Services. SO unfortunately it doesn’t look like the new APIs will be backwards-compatible.

  • noah

    Do you think the new hangouts could be used to recover old texts if you get a new phone because it will be used through the cloud?

  • Godzilla


  • Godzilla


  • Godzilla


  • Ian Smith

    i’d just love for me to be able to SMS from my Nexus 7 when at home and not have to worry about bringing my phone around the house with me. also nice to be able to have all of my messages synced across devices & browsers. this should be really cool & really change MY Android experience/entire messaging life.

    • AbbyZFresh

      So you basically wanna turn your Nexus 7 into a large Nexus 4?

      SMS is best used with smartphones buddy.

      • Jeff

        I would also like to share texts with my Nexus 7. Why keep my N7 AND phone near me around the house when I can just use the N7, pal?

        • Chris

          Because text messaging has always been with phone. You are to be pretty stupid to not know that

      • randy

        Ooooooooh. calling you buddy and he doesn’t even know you.slow down there, pal, chap, friend, amigo, iphone user.

    • LionStone

      I do that with Google Voice on my N7… even traveling by plane, because it just needs Wi-Fi, I can continue to text anyone if I need too just using the tablet. Later after I land, all my messages are there on my phone that took place in the air on the N7.

    • chris_johns

      I use tablet talk(great app) to text at one on my n7 n much prefer it over carrying both devices around the house(esp zero service in my house can leave the phone where it has service n use through tablet)… My only issue is it sometimes disconnects and if google did this it would solve that problem…do it!

    • Chris

      who doesnt have their phone with them?

  • Godzilla

    • Ian Smith

      is that what that guy looks like? iphone ear buds & all…

      • Godzilla


        • michael arazan

          And this is why we need DL Comment awards

    • Rafa Sandoval

      Oh god that is great x)

    • Tony Stark

      You, my friend, are a comical genius

    • Chris

      your point kid?

    • Creamsteve

      Is that Todd?

  • Trysta

    Everyone is getting so excited about sms in hangouts. I have a question. As a potential future Nexus 5 owner do people think I will be able to send regular texts without a 3rd party app? Texting is very important to me and my texts are all free on t-mobile so I don’t need some other service to replace it. I just want to be able to send normal texts to anyone even if they own an android phone or iphone with hangouts installed. I don’t want to be perpetually signed in to hangouts because there are many people in my contacts list that I don’t want contacting me when I’m not expecting it. Any guesses on this? (I realize no one will know 100% until KitKat is released)

    • Dan


  • joejoe5709

    Very cool. I mean it’s not going to change my life, but this is something Android users have been begging for.

  • Michael

    Why are the popups different? shouldn’t they both be white?

    • Godzilla

      dont play the race card

    • Chris

      too much white is bad. Google needs to undersrand this

  • Rob Delaney

    I think the integration will be great, I am not sure of the name. I think it will confuse people if there is no default message app and only Hangouts. At least with iMessage you saw the name and thought “oh maybe this is were I text a message”. With a app named Hangouts I can see the average consumer overlooking it as just “bloatware”.

    • joejoe5709

      One would think that one if the first things they do with their smartphone is go looking for a text app. And if stock Android puts it on the homescreen or dock right away, they’re almost guaranteed to click on it. Who knows. Maybe Google will provide one of those helpful guided hints when you first load Android.

      • Rob Delaney

        LOL true but who ever reads those. It’s like the little books they put in with your smartphone.

  • Stevedub40

    I guess I don’t understand why we think this will completely replace Voice. Does Hangouts do visual voice mail as well? Am I the only one that uses Voice for voice mail only?

    • nmaxfield

      i only use google voice as my voicemail provider. having the visual voicemail available without need of carrier based (monthly fee) visual voicemail. i hope to see either voice get completely merged with hangouts, or at least keep the option of using it for voicemail, etc. the only thing that prevented me from porting my number to google voice was the fact that they couldn’t handle mms, so i’m wondering how this will all affect that..

      guess we’ll find out soon-ish.

    • Trysta

      no I am exactly the same. I just discovered that the voice app could be used to nicely manage my voicemail and I would be really sad to lose this functionality so soon.

    • Justin W

      The thought is Hangouts was Google’s version of iMessage, to be used to integrate G+ Messaging/G Talk (what Hangouts currently does), the Messaging app in AOSP Android, and Voice (SMS, hopefully MMS, and Voicemail), but I’m not sure about the voicemail part. I know they can’t completely get rid of voice without a certain amount of notice due to government regulations, but I’m not sure how Voice and Hangouts integration would work.

    • Jeff Warner

      We are assuming this will replace Voice because Google outright said that to the press at (if my memory serves) I/O 2013.

  • bboyairwreck

    The problem is just getting iPhone users to use Hangouts. I’ve used hangouts on iOS for 3 months and it’s just so slow at updating msgs compared to Google hangouts on Android. Maybe this was because I was using a iPhone 4S with no LTE but still. I love using Hangouts on my D MAXX & desktop so hopefully it will be improved on the other side.

    • AbbyZFresh

      No. The problem is getting people to use Hangouts at all. People are still heavily invested into iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp, etc. Why would they need another app? What does Hangouts stand out on?

      • Friguy3

        Id say people arent “invested” in iMessage, they use it to a send text messages (and by default if its to an iPhone, it sends it through iMessage, and if its not, it sends a SMS). This is how Hangouts will be. EVERYONE on android will send messages to other androids through hangouts, without them even knowing it.

        • starnovsky

          And not even Android, as long as other party has hangouts app installed. It should be transparent for the user.

    • gtg465x

      Once Hangouts for Android supports SMS and MMS, it doesn’t matter if iOS users use it. Hangouts will automatically send SMS/MMS messages to iOS users who don’t use Hangouts.

      • AbbyZFresh

        That kind of defeats the purpose of Hangouts buddy.

        • Ray Gray

          No it doesn’t the point is all messages in one area. Whether the recipient receives a text or a message over a potato shouldn’t matter to the sender.

          • Ryuuie

            Potato Messaging should be an actual thing.

            Just throw the potato at the person you want to message. Better hope they can catch…or duck.

  • El_Big_CHRIS

    My body is ready

    • SparkysShocker

      but what of your mind and soul?

    • Guy Meatdrapes


  • jdjdjdjd

    New SMS agreement : your texts may appear in ads…. Problemo?

  • SemahjLam

    I think google should get rid of their stock sms app make hangouts handle everything and then force every oem to make hangouts their default messaging app so then next thing you know its as big as imessage cause all your friends will be using it…just a thought

  • Chase J

    We ain’t seeing kikat tomorrow with Google doing this I say the end of the month!

    • El_Big_CHRIS


      • Chase J

        I don’t see it I would like to but I don’t think so

      • spearman792

        “We won’t be seeing the announcement of Kit Kat tomorrow. With Google doing these SMS changes, I predict the announcement will occur at the end of the month!”

  • teleclimber

    Anybody else worried about the status of Google Voice?

    • Bradley Albert Nemitz

      Yep. I’ve got fingers crossed though – surely this works towards what I want/need.

    • ReturnOfTheMack

      I don’t use Google Voice but I honestly feel like its functionality will eventually be integrated into either Hangouts or Android itself.

    • SparkysShocker

      Not really it will probably be rolled into Hangouts, and hopefully it won’t lose functionality. Although I only use it for voice mail and occasionally some international wifi calls with groove ip.

    • CJBinATX

      No. I’m happy with its integration into Hangouts so far.

    • Only thing that worries me, is if Google kills off the actual Voice part of it all. I have like 5-6 phone numbers at a time always attached to mine, and can’t live without it as a service.

      • teleclimber

        Yeah my personal number is on GV which is why I am keeping a close eye on it.

      • Tim242

        I love you kellen, I really do. But…the amount and type of ads you put on this site is pure spam. This one site is the only reason I started using an ad blocker. I don’t mind ads, but I can’t deal with the amount that you spam us with.

        • BaconEater


        • moew

          Yeah, I use noscript and the list is like 30 to 40 long of the domains requesting access. Most sites have 2-4 tops.

          Had to temp allow just to see the damn comments. WTFU DL?

        • Ian Smith

          I don’t love Kellen and I don’t love ads but this is still my go-to site. Deal with it, Timothy.

          • Tim242

            I did : )

          • Greg

            @tim242:disqus I dealt with them the same way you did. AdBlocker. I am shocked every time I visit this site from another computer without AdBlock, it is spam at this point.

        • Greyhame

          If you’re that annoyed, browse elsewhere. I don’t use an ad-blocker at all and have no issues with this site. It’s their way of monetizing their efforts to keep the knowledge flowing. Stfu and be thankful for the information Droid-Life provides.

          • Tim242

            As I said, I don’t have a problem with ads. But the amount of them and how they implement them is spam. I bet if Google did this to its apps, your view would change quickly.

        • starnovsky

          I don’t mind supporting DL, I’ll don’t care about ads.

          • Tim242

            I don’t mind ads, but spam is another story. If Google did this to its apps, your view would change.

          • starnovsky

            the is a world of difference between DL and Google.
            DL is a small blog, Google is a huge corporation.

          • Tim242

            Google is in the business of making money from ads to provide free services for billions. DL has a staff of 4 and has at most a few thousand readers. No other blog spams like this. No excuses.

          • starnovsky

            It’s your right to block ads. But I don’t think you should accuse DL of anything. It’s their site and they do what they like.

          • Tim242

            I’m not really accusing them of anything. Spam is spam. If this amount of ads was anywhere else, you would have your pitchfork out. I fought against blocking ads for so long. But when ads started popping up when I click to reply to a post, it pushed me over my limit.

        • Dan

          what ads?

          • Tim242

            Ahhhh much better.

      • Cowboydroid

        A lot of people have their phone number tied to Google Voice, and there are fees for porting your number in and out. Google wouldn’t just kill off the service without a very long notice.

        I don’t think there’s anything to be worried about, as much as there is to be excited about! Voice rolling into Hangouts would be a dream come true.

      • Blue Sun

        I’m still dealing with Latitude & iGoogle functionality being removed & ripped out. This is gonna kill me all over again if they remove Voice functionality in Hangouts. 2013 has not been a good year for me as a Google product user. Add Reader in there too.

        • Justin W

          I was sad to see Reader go, but I’m overall happy with Feedly. Slightly disappointed in that sometimes it will not recognize my mark as read commands on desktop, but overall it’s been a pretty good experience.

      • Ian Smith

        Kellex… why would they kill off the voice part and screw everyone with GV #s? It makes ZERO sense.

        • Godzilla


    • Trueblue711

      I am, but at the same time, it made the cut when Google audited their services and made the decision to cut many of them. I think Google knows voice could introduce revolutionary features if integrated into Android in the future.

    • Tony Stark

      I can’t imagine what I’d do without Google Voice… Do I have to start giving chicks my real number? 😉

  • Kevin

    i hope this is available for non-kitkat devices.

    • nvitone23

      it will be

      • Kevin

        i also hope LG and VZW step up to the plate and get the G2 onto kitkat somewhat swiftly, but that might be asking too much.

        • nvitone23

          you won’t need kitkat for this though…thats been established

          • Timothy McGovern

            You’re gay

          • nvitone23


      • gtg465x

        How do you know? Could easily be a 4.4+ feature of Hangouts, especially considering this new API.

        • nvitone23

          They are trying to get this to everyone…think about the phrase they put out with the kitkat name unveiling, “It’s our goal with Android KitKat to make an amazing Android experience available for everybody.”…they are trying to erase fragmentation as much as possible…thats why they are moving as many features to the play store as downloadable apps, as they can…its unlikely that they’d put out that phrase if everything was just gonna be for 4.4+

    • joejoe5709

      I hope so. Even with SMS/MMS support, Hangouts needs universal adoption to be a real contender with iMessage.

  • Open1Your1Eyes0

    This may become an issue for apps like MightyText, that deal with SMS/MMS directly but are not actual SMS/MMS composer apps.

    FYI, for those wondering, MightyText is an excellent remote SMS/MMS app that can deal with your phone’s messages via a Chrome extension or a special Tablet app.


    • kelly

      Well… Not for long

  • Geo

    nexus 5, nexus 10, android 4.4 kit kat tomorrow? i want it to be true but i know it’s not

    • Kane Stapler

      17 days. Not tomorrow

      • Matthew DiGiacomo

        November announcement? Highly unlikely

        • Kane Stapler

          17 days is October 31st.

          • Chase J

            There not going to do it on Halloween no way I say some time between the 25Th And The 30th

          • Kane Stapler

            Just remember you said that when the time comes

          • Chase J

            I will stick with it cuz there not going to do it on the 31st I’d like them to do it on the 22 to outshine apples event it be funny

          • They might. Remember, it’s KitKat and Halloween. There’s some synergy there maybe.

          • Matthew DiGiacomo

            If you count today then sure but if you really think they are gonna wait that long, you’re crazy.

          • Kane Stapler

            That’s the date everyone keeps hearing, and they haven’t sent out press invites yet. So they would have to do that at least a week in advance

          • Matthew DiGiacomo

            First off, that date hasn’t been heard by any credible source. The 15th was more likely but that doesn’t look too good either. Also, everyone could be under an embargo until tomorrow or some other date.

          • Kane Stapler

            The DL crew mentioned it in their DLShow. Android Police has mentioned it. 9to5Google mentioned it. (There are probably more)

            The way people have been talking about it (like the DL team on their show) seems like they still don’t know. When the Moto X had a NDA on the announcement you could tell from most bloggers.

          • Larizard

            They’re gonna wait for Apple to lay out its cards at the iPad event. Then Goog will go for the kill with a Nexus 5 / Android KitKat announcement soon after.

    • TheWenger

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Google invited the tech journalists to an event and just threw down an NDA while also encouraging blogs to troll everyone by saying “we have no invite, it’s not tomorrow”.

      • I would be very surprised actually

  • iMessage just had a mild heart attack 🙂

    • Guest

      Elaborate please

      • SparkysShocker

        I think he means the fact that Hangouts is available on Android, iOS, and desktop based Chrome browsers.

        However the implementation outlined above makes it seems as if if Hangouts on Android would allow you to manage your SMS/MMS on your phone in one place, it is still not clear if this would work on iOS and Chrome.

        • bamboo7

          I didn’t realize there was another ecosystem. 😉

    • George264

      I still will use iMessage on my iDevices because just about every one of my friends have iPhones. And I guess they would also continue using iMessage because it’s built in.
      Even my GS3 and One friends switched to a 5S :/

      • chocolate8175

        Your friends suck, ha

        • It really sucks. All of my friends are the same. They all use the iPhone as a fashion symbol while I actually know about phones and went Android. Now they all make fun of me when I pull my Note 3 out. They have no idea what they’re talking about!

    • Stacey

      iMessage only works if everyone in the house has an iPhone, and I can’t use it as a low cost phone like I can with Google Voice/Gmail. Even though I have an iPhone, I’d rather use Google hangouts, especially if it does everything that Google voice does! How can I say no to free US calls from my gmail + full integration with Hangouts? That kills the need for a home phone right there!

      • -E

        What is this “home phone” you speak of?

        • Allen Yates

          You can use a VOIP telephone adapter like the Obi100 with Google Voice. Yes, it’s awesome. Just search Amazon. Don’t know if they like links here.

          • thereviewhubdotcom

            I use a Obi202 (the newest one) and you are right Allen, it is awesome if used with Google Voice as your home phone! 🙂

      • kidbudi

        this makes zero sense … iMessage is just iOS device to iOS device messaging.. doesn’t matter who’s house or what phone or whatever you’re talking about

        • Jeff Warner

          Stacey said “in the house” to indicate that she does most of her messaging to her family, who all live in the same house. It wasn’t literal and she likely knows that iMessage can be used outside of her physical home. Her complaint is that furnishing her entire family with iPhones is an expensive endeavour and she would rather just use Hangouts as a poor-man’s alternative.