We recently called Hangouts--Google's new, unified messaging app for Android and iOS devices--an "over-the-top mobile messaging service in the vein of Whatsapp, Kik, and Facebook Messenger," and its far-flung functionality appears destined to expand with text message integration.
"Yes, SMS integration is coming soon--it is one of our most requested features," said Dori Storbeck, Google's community manager for Hangouts and Chat, on Google+. She quickly appended that message, saying "Oops! We actually have nothing to announce at this time. My apologies."
Hangouts now lets you send text messages via Google's new app in a manner similar to Whatsapp and Viber, but the feature does not integrate with your phone's SMS function.
Google's new messaging app was rolled out at Google I/O earlier this week as part of the big Google+ overhaul. Hangouts replaces the Google Talk app on Android, offering similar functionality along with group video chat. Hangouts will also replace the Google+ Messenger app that comes bundled with Google+ for Android and iOS, according to Google Product Manager Ben Eidelson.
Similar messaging service
Storbeck's flimsy disclaimer notwithstanding, it appears SMS integration is coming to Hangouts in the near future. The move would give Hangouts similar features to Facebook Messenger, the mobile messaging app from Google's social networking rival. Facebook Messenger also integrates with your phone's SMS capability on a number of Android devices.
Despite advances in SMS integration, however, Facebook is woefully behind on bringing video chat to Messenger or its primary mobile app. There were hints of a video chat feature found in the code for Facebook Messenger as far back as mid-2011, but Facebook video chat for mobile has yet to be released.
Since Google has yet to officially announce SMS for Hangouts, it's not clear when such a feature might appear. It's also anybody's guess whether the feature will be available on both the desktop and mobile devices. Since Google has offered SMS messaging from Gmail since 2008, there's a good chance the feature will be available across PCs and mobile devices alike.