And then there were two: Messenger app for SMS released

The weird and wacky saga of SMS on Android continues to get weird and wacky with today's release of the new Messenger app into Google Play. The free app handles SMS and MMS duties and only SMS and MMS duties, though with more than a bit of Material Design flair. First there was Messaging, Google Voice, and Google Chat; then there was only Hangouts, and now there's two again.

So why a new app? We'll let the app description do a bit of the talking here:

  • Faster sharing: Select or take pictures and videos directly from the app and share easily. You can even send audio messages to your contacts.
  • Easy search: Search through contacts and conversation threads to find exactly what you are looking for.
  • Purposeful design: New, fluid, material design that is intuitive and delightful.
  • More control: Ability to block SMS senders. No interruptions when you don't want them!
  • More features: audio messages, emoji support :smiley:, colored text threads, message archiving and more.

Messenger screenshots

This is an odd development, following the integration of SMS and MMS into the Hangouts app. While it was nice to have all messaging in one app with the ability to easily switch back and forth between the two, perhaps Google realized that having that one app be called "Hangouts" wasn't the best call. So now we're back to two apps, though we've seen no indication that text messaging will be extracted from Hangouts.

You can check out the Messenger app now for free in Google Play — but is this a good direction for Google to go?