Remember when Google finally integrated SMS into Hangouts, bringing Google's beleaguered IM client a little closer to Apple's iMessage? It seems like Google is now backing away from this strategy. In the newest update, Hangouts 7.0, the app now pops up a dialog box suggesting that you stop using Hangouts for SMS and switch to Android's standalone SMS client, "Messenger."
Google apps usually pop up messages like this when Google is preparing to remove or stop working on a feature. Hangouts posted a similar message when it first integrated SMS, and again when it integrated Google Voice, telling users to switch to Hangouts from whatever they were currently using. The message to switch to the SMS app was predicted by a Phandroid rumor a month ago, which said that this was the first step toward removing SMS support from Hangouts.
Besides threatening to remove a major feature, 7.0 adds a quick reply function, which lets you type out a reply right from the notification panel.
While Google's biggest competitors treat IM clients like flagship products and invest billions of dollars into them, Google Hangouts still feels like a small, disorganized, understaffed side project. Now it seems SMS support will be getting worse, not better.