Meta announced that it will stop supporting SMS messages on its Messenger app for Android devices starting from September 28, 2023. The change, which was quietly revealed through in-app notifications and an updated help page, means that users who use Messenger as their default texting app will have to switch to another SMS app soon.
Messenger first added SMS support in 2012 but discontinued it a year later. In 2016, the company reintroduced the feature, allowing users to send and receive text messages from their cellular network through the app. SMS threads were distinguished from Messenger’s internet-based chats by a purple color scheme, with Meta claiming that its SMS experience was “SMS on steroids”.
However, the company has not given a clear explanation for why it is removing the feature now, saying only that “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”. The company also assured users that they will still be able to access their SMS message history through their phone’s new default messaging app.
The decision to drop SMS support may reflect a shift in strategy as Messenger focuses on its advanced features for encrypted messaging and social communication. It may also be a response to the growing popularity of Google’s Messages app, which has become the standard SMS app for most Android phones and supports RCS (Rich Communication Services), a protocol that offers enhanced features such as read receipts, group chats, and high-quality media sharing.
Users who rely on Messenger for SMS messaging will have to choose another app before the end of September. They can either use the default messaging app provided by their phone’s operating system or download a third-party SMS app from the Google Play Store. However, they may lose some of the functionality and convenience that Messenger offered, such as stickers, emojis, and chat heads.