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When Hangouts took the baton from Talk as Google’s messaging app of choice, the company promised support for other means of communication (like Google Voice) down the line. Thanks to a report from Android Police, it looks like we can expect SMS and MMS support to show up in Hangouts sooner rather than later — though only for Android, which allows tighter integration between system functions and apps.

google-hangouts-smsThe image to the right shows what Android Police believes is a leaked image from the updated Hangouts app for Android. In it, you can see two messages sent “via SMS” and a “Send an SMS message” prompt inside the text box at the bottom of the screen.

The addition of text messaging and multimedia messaging support inside Hangouts will bring the app more in line with Apple’s competitor, iMessage. That app, too, can handle Web-based messaging across multiple devices (iPhones, iPads, Macs) and SMS/MMS when on an iPhone. The downside to iMessage is that it can only be used on Apple products, while Hangouts is supported on Android, iOS and the Web.

As for Hangouts on iOS, I don’t expect a whole lot to change. Apple is very strict about what apps can and can’t do on its devices, and granting a third-party app permission to send and receive SMS/MMS doesn’t sound likely. That said, should the fabled Google Voice integration finally make its way into the Hangouts apps, Google could support SMS on non-Android devices that way.

Google hasn’t done a whole lot with Voice in the recent past, so we’ll have to wait and see how committed the company is to supporting it inside Hangouts. But if Google Voice integration did indeed come, it would actually give Google a leg up in the messaging battle against Apple. While iMessage only lets users send texts from an iPhone, Google Voice users could do so from any iOS or Android-powered phone or tablet, as well as from a Web browser.

There’s no timeline on when we might see this updated Hangouts app for Android pop up, but we’ll stay on the story and let you know the second we hear more.


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