Android has the unique ability to set a default texting app for sending SMS and MMS messages through your carrier. Back in the operating system’s early days, many apps added support for this feature in an attempt to get users onto their messaging platforms — Facebook Messenger, for one, gave you a place for all your texting needs by integrating SMS messages right alongside its web-based instant messages. Sadly, this feature is sunsetting next month.
Meta has announced plans to drop SMS support in Messenger starting September 28, 2023 (via 9to5Google). If you currently use Messenger as your SMS app, you will need to download a new client or use the built-in SMS app that came with your phone once Messenger updates on or after September 28. If you take no action, your phone should automatically revert to using its preinstalled SMS app once the update goes live.
In 2016, Meta incorporated SMS functionality into Messenger, providing Android users a dual experience – online chats mixed seamlessly with traditional SMS messages. The platform initially dabbled with SMS support in 2012, only to retract it by 2013. The 2016 resurgence saw a colorful touch – SMS threads showcased in purple, distinguishing them from the traditional blue online chats.
Evidently, the modern day has seen dwindling popularity for third-party SMS apps. Users are drawn to the extra capabilities of web-based IM clients like Messenger and WhatsApp; meanwhile, Google continues pushing RCS as a replacement for SMS and MMS. Messenger’s SMS phase-out could be perceived as a reflection of this larger trend.
Nonetheless, Messenger is far from stagnant. Earlier this year, the platform bolstered its end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) chats, aiming to standardize these private chats by 2023’s end. This development parallels other renowned messaging platforms, such as Signal, WhatsApp, and even Google Messages, which all champion default E2EE.
The next few weeks spell a transition for those still using Messenger’s SMS service. It might be good to preemptively adapt to an alternative SMS platform ahead of the September cutoff — if you need some guidance, we’d suggest starting with our list of the best communication apps for Android.