Facebook has brought back the integration of SMS support into Messenger for Android. Users of the popular messaging service now have the option to send and receive SMS texts within Facebook’s chat app, allowing for communication with contacts beyond the confines of the social network.
Updated on 06-15-2016 by Saqib Shah: Added info about the relaunch and functionality of SMS support on Messenger for Android
If you want Messenger as your smartphone’s all-round messaging platform, simply head into the settings tab by pressing the person icon, then select “SMS” from the list, and turn on “Default SMS app.” Once activated, your SMS conversations will appear in purple chat bubbles in order to differentiate them from Messenger’s traditional blue bubbles.
Aside from text, images, video, and audio, SMS on Messenger can also support rich content including stickers, emoji, and location sharing. Messenger still boasts a number of unique features that can’t be applied to SMS texts within the app, most notably GIFs, money transfers, and the ability to request transportation. Facebook also revealed that it won’t store any of your SMS conversations on its servers. As usual, the standard text messaging fees will apply to all SMS messages sent from Messenger.
If you used Messenger prior to late 2013, you may remember that it initially included SMS integration. However, the feature was removed, with Facebook claiming that few people actually used it on a consistent basis.
It’s likely that the feature’s Android test phase, which began around February, restored the social network’s faith in SMS. Facebook claims that iOS integration was excluded because the operating software doesn’t currently support app permissions for accessing SMS. Regardless of the technical difficulties, it would have been a harder sell on Apple devices due to the popularity of iMessage. Considering the latter is about to get a ton of new updates with iOS 10, it’s difficult to imagine iPhone users abandoning their native messaging service when it comes to sending and receiving texts.
A Facebook post announcing the revival of SMS on Android states the following: “We know that people receive messages via both SMS and Messenger — for example your best friend sends you GIFs on Messenger while your mom only uses SMS — we want to make it easier to stay in touch with all the people you care about.”
Facebook began testing SMS integration on a small number of Android users in North America in February. At the same time, Facebook also pushed out a new feature for Android users that allowed for multiple-account support on a single device.