Google to drop SMS support in Hangouts for Fi users, recommends Messages for Web instead

Android Messages with a dark theme
Android Messages with a dark theme (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Fi users will soon lose the ability to route text conversations through Hangouts as Google readies to discontinue the service.
  • With Google Chat going free in the first half of 2021, Google recommends that Fi users who want to sync their text conversations across multiple devices instead use Messages for Web.
  • Messages for Web now allows Fi users to send and receive texts even without a direct connection to their phone, though RCS will need to be disabled first.

Hangouts holdouts haven't had it easy. Google has been warning users of the messaging service's impending doom for years, and it's finally taking action as it gears up to replace the service with Google Chat in early 2021.

While the company says it will automatically migrate Hangouts conversations to Google Chat to make the transition easier, one feature that won't be carried over is the ability for Google Fi users to direct their SMS threads through Hangouts.

Messages for Web now allows you to sync your texts using your Google account, even without your phone nearby.

For years, this has been a convenient way for Fi users to enjoy a sort of "unified inbox" for their conversations, and even send text messages from their computer, but Google now recommends its users switch to the Messages app on their phones.

Naturally, to replicate the experience on the desktop, users will be expected to use Messages for Web. This service has existed for years, but it's recently gained support for more Fi-specific features.

As always, users can scan a QR code on the Messages for Web site to establish a connection between their phone and computer. As long as the phone is connected, you can send and receive messages on your computer, including RCS-enabled chat features like high-res images and read receipts.

You can also now associate your Google account to Messages for Web, allowing you to send and receive texts without a direct connection to your phone — though due to the encrypted nature of RCS, you'll need to disable chat features to enable offline syncing.

Hayato Huseman

Hayato was a product reviewer and video editor for Android Central.