Updated November 19, 2018: Good news, everyone! Google recently updated its support page with a list of exceptions for apps that can use SMS and call log permissions, and low and behold, one of the listed exceptions is "Task automation." In other words, Tasker is in the clear to keep on using those permissions for the foreseeable future. Good stuff 🎉
Tasker has long been one of Android's most popular automation apps, but come this January, it'll lose two huge features — the ability to automate anything relating to SMS or phone calls.
In early October, Google announced that it was going to become more strict about what kind of apps can access SMS and phone permissions. The main takeaway was that only apps that were set as your default dialer/messaging apps could use these permissions, and seeing as how tasker isn't either of those, that's where the problem lies.
Tasker's owner sent a request to Google that the app be an exception to this rule seeing as how it doesn't abuse these permissions and uses them to genuinely benefit users, but unfortunately, the request was denied.
As such, unless Google changes its mind, SMS and call functionality will be removed from Tasker come January.
If you want to make your voice heard about this situation, you can do so here.