Meta Set to Discontinue SMS Support on Messenger App

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, recently announced plans to terminate SMS support on its popular Messenger app for Android devices. The discontinuation will take effect on September 28, 2023. Meta discretely shared this news via in-app notifications and updates to its help page. Consequently, Android users who rely on Messenger for texting will need to find an alternative SMS app.

Messenger’s SMS support initially debuted in 2012 but was halted after only a year. In 2016, the feature re-emerged, allowing users to send and receive text messages using their mobile carrier network within the app. Messenger’s SMS messages were distinguishable from its internet-based chats by sporting a unique purple color theme.

Meta’s reasoning behind ending SMS support remains unclear— its statement simply addresses the timeline: “You will no longer be able to use Messenger to send and receive SMS messages sent by your cellular network when you update your app after September 28, 2023.” However, the tech giant reassures users that they will have access to their SMS message history through the new default messaging app on their devices.

A Shift in Focus

The decision to remove SMS support possibly indicates a strategic shift as Messenger enhances encrypted messaging and social communication functionalities. Another factor could be the rising prevalence of Google’s Messages app, which has established itself as the default SMS app on a majority of Android phones. The Messages app supports Rich Communication Services (RCS), offering upgraded features such as read receipts, group messaging, and seamless media sharing.

Messenger’s SMS users will need to make a decision before the September deadline. Options include adopting their phone’s in-built default messaging app or downloading a third-party SMS app from the Google Play Store. In any case, users may have to forego features that previously set Messenger apart, including unique stickers, emojis, and chat head functionality.

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