Facebook has officially launched SMS integration for its Messenger app on Android which will allow users to make the Messenger its default SMS app. The feature directly takes on Google's Hangouts which released the integration option almost three years back.
"There are other SMS clients out there. Some are quite popular, focused on customisation. But what we think we can provide is convenience," Facebook product manager Andrea Vaccari told TechCrunch while discussing the new feature.
The feature has been rolled out in most countries where users can select the FB messenger as their default SMS app by just going to their settings, selecting "SMS" and turning on "Default SMS App". Once the feature is turned on, all SMS conversations on the device will appear in the Messenger window in purple text to differentiate from actual messenger chats which will be in blue.
This feature does not mean that SMS will be sent free. Messages will be sent through the carrier itself and standard SMS/MMS charges will be applicable. Enabling the feature will just bring both the chat heads under one app.
Google Hangouts has been offering this for a while now, and many users, especially corporate users, who use their G Chat for official purposes find it rather easy to have the SMS integration. In fact, Facebook itself was not far behind Google when it developed this feature in 2012.
Facebook had introduced an integrated SMS for Messenger in 2012 itself but had to drop the feature in 2013 as there were hardly any takers. In February 2016, Facebook again started testing this feature and finally decided to re-launch it now.
iPhone users will not get the feature on iOS as Facebook terms the launch as an Android exclusive. This may be because unlike Google whose Android OS is open-sourced, Apple is not as flexible about giving access to developers for iOS.