Thursday, April 20, 2017

Say Goodbye to SMS: The Best Google Hangouts Alternatives

By  Kannon Yamada

On May 22, 2017, Google Hangouts will lose carrier-based SMS (text messaging) integration. If you currently use Hangouts as your default SMS app, that means you also need a Hangouts replacement.
But the best replacement app depends on your needs.

Why People Used Hangouts

For a while, Hangouts seemed poised to be the iMessage of Android. Hangouts came as the default SMS app on some devices, and others voluntarily made it their texting app. Unfortunately, it just never caught on.
Now, with Hangouts moving towards the corporate scene and away from the consumer side of things, Google has decided to remove the SMS integration. That means no more sending or receiving texts (from your carrier-supplied number) using the Hangouts app.
If you connected Hangouts with Google Voice and use that integration to get free outgoing and incoming SMS messages from your Voice number, you’re in luck. That feature isn’t being killed… yet. But with the revitalization of the Google Voice app, its death might be on the horizon, so why not jump ship early?Google Voice Gets an Update and Is More Useful Than Ever Google Voice Gets an Update and Is More Useful Than EverGoogle Voice, long thought abandoned, was just revived by Google. Here's what's up with Voice and what you can expect to see in the revamped apps.READ MORE
For one reason or another, it’s probably best for most folks currently using Hangouts to make to other apps.

Backing Up Hangouts Data

Before you start using another service, you should back up your Hangouts data. Hangouts isn’t getting killed off, but you may want to backup your data anyway if you’re planning to leave the service behind. Thankfully, it’s dead-simple.
If you use Hangouts for SMS, this has to be done in two parts.
hangouts takeout

Part 1: Hangouts-to-Hangouts Messages

Simply navigate to Google Takeout (preferably on a desktop/laptop). Deselect all of the services that you don’t want to back up. Then choose Done from the bottom left of the screen.
backup hangouts data
On the next screen, the defaults should work for almost anyone. Choose Create archive to backup your data. If you use Hangouts for SMS messaging, this will only save your Hangouts-to-Hangouts message, but not your SMS messages.
backup hangouts data
Google stores Hangouts chats as JSON data. On the downside, I am not aware of any chat app that can currently important this data.

Part 2: SMS Messages

To back up all of your SMS messages, we recommend using SMS Backup & Restore. If you’ve been using Hangouts as your default SMS app, this will save all your SMS messages, but none of your Hangouts-to-Hangouts messages.How to Delete, Back Up, and Recover SMS Text Messages on Android How to Delete, Back Up, and Recover SMS Text Messages on AndroidIf you need to delete, backup, or restore text messages on Android, this article has you covered.READ MORE
You can then restore your SMS messages to whichever app you decide to migrate over to.
Website — Google Takeout
Download — SMS Backup & Restore

If You Need an SMS Replacement App

If you used Hangouts as an SMS app, you can replace that function with the stock Android SMS app: Android Messages. Android Messages offers a drop-in replacement for Hangouts. For most newer devices, the app comes pre-installed. On older Android devices, you can simply install it from the Play Store.
android messages app example
However, if the stock app isn’t what you crave, Facebook Messenger offers a compelling alternative. Not only does it centralize your SMS conversations, it also aggregates Facebook chats.
facebook messenger example
There are also a ton of other replacement SMS options for you in the Play Store, ranging from the simple to the feature-packed.Text Better with These Alternative SMS Apps for Android Text Better with These Alternative SMS Apps for AndroidDon't like your default SMS app? Try a new one!READ MORE
Download — Android Messages (Free)
Download — Facebook Messenger (Free)

If You Want Free Wi-Fi Calls and Texts

If you used Hangouts integration with Google Voice, you got free SMS messages and phone calls from your Voice number. If you can see the writing on the wall for Voice integration in Hangouts, you can just go ahead and download the new updated Voice app.
This will allow you to text and check your voicemails from the Voice app, but unfortunately, Voice still doesn’t have a built-in dialer.
google voice hangouts replacement
On Android, that means that Voice uses your default dialer app — but on the desktop, that means that you still need to make and receive calls through Hangouts. Hopefully they’ll give Voice its own calling feature independent of Hangouts soon, but for now, users are kind of forced to be split between the two apps.
If you’re fine just waiting until Google officially kills Voice integration with Hangouts, though, you can just leave it integrated and continue as normal.
Or, if you find Google’s fragmented messaging strategy too irritating to deal with, try Talkatone.
talkatone example dialer
Not only does it handle calls and SMS for numbers based in the United States, it also comes with a free phone number — provided that you register the app.
Another service, GrooVe IP, offers most of the same excellent services and features as Talkatone. The difference is in their pricing structures. While both offer ad-supported free versions, Talkatone’s in-app pricing runs for $1.99 per month. GrooVe IP charges a one-time fee of $6.99 for the pro version.
If neither of those work for you, try one of these alternatives for getting a free U.S. phone number.No US Phone Number? No Problem – Best Free Apps for Calling to the USA No US Phone Number? No Problem – Best Free Apps for Calling to the USAWith these apps, you get your very own American phone number that you can use from anywhere in the world.READ MORE
Download — Google Voice (Free)
Download — Talkatone (Free)
Download — GrooVe IP (Free)

Temporary Phone Apps

If you want an anonymous alternative to Hangouts, considering trying a temporary phone app.
burner app
These apps provide a temporary phone number along with SMS and calling capabilities. You also get the benefit of concealing your identity. Most people use temporary phone apps for conducting Craigslist or eBay transactions. For those interested, we’ve covered anonymous messaging apps and reasons to get a burner number.5 Apps for Getting a Temporary Burner Phone Number 5 Apps for Getting a Temporary Burner Phone NumberIf you need a temporary or second phone number, you should download one of these burner apps.READ MORE
The text messages and calls don’t cost much, and they consume data rather than your phone’s minutes or SMS allotment. There are two main options you might want to try.


Burner (its name derives from “burner phone“), provides users with a temporary phone number with unlimited calls and texts. It does cost quite a bit at $5 per month, but as such a reliable app, it could be worth it.Sick of the NSA Tracking You? Burn Them with a Burner Phone Sick of the NSA Tracking You? Burn Them with a Burner PhoneSick of the NSA tracking you using your phone's positioning coordinates? Prepaid phones known colloquially as "burners" can provide you with partial privacy.READ MORE


Like Burner, Hushed can create anonymous and temporary phone numbers. It also includes a texting plan. Hushed offers several tiers of prices and services. But you can try the service out for free. I personally prefer Hushed — but the Burner app is just as good.
Download — Hushed (Free)
Download — Burner (Free)

Get All Your Messages in One Place

For those of you who use Facebook Messenger, SMS, and Whatsapp, you’re in luck. You can get all your conversations dumped into a single app: Disa. Disa’s developers intend to plug additional chat services into their app later.
disa example app hangouts replacement
Unfortunately, you still pay for SMS. Had it included interoperability with a VoIP app, such as GrooVe IP or Talkatone, it could entirely replace Hangouts (in fact, it’d be better than Hangouts). But for now, it’s just a flexible cross-platform instant messaging service.
Hopefully sometime in the future, Disa might offer a plugin for a VoIP client, and that would make it the ultimate chat app.
Download — Disa (Free)

What’s the Best Hangouts Replacement?

Right now, no perfect Hangouts replacement exists. Fortunately, if you’re done with Hangouts, most of its features can be found in other apps.
If you need a new SMS messaging client, try Android Messages. If free SMS capabilities are your thing, try out Talkatone. And for those who need a temporary number, try Hushed.
Does anyone else know of a better Hangouts alternative? Let us know in the comments!

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