Say Goodbye to SMS: The Best Google Hangouts Alternatives

Kannon Yamada 13-04-2017

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?

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.

You can then restore your SMS messages to whichever app you decide to migrate over to.

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.

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.

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 The 5 Best Apps for a Temporary Burner Phone Number Need to stay hidden? These fake number apps let you generate a burner number so you keep your real phone number private. Read More  and reasons to get a burner number 4 Good Reasons To Get an Emergency Burner Phone Your smartphone has tons of features, and that's a great thing. Sometimes, you just need a basic phone to keep around for emergencies. Let's look at why. 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 Sick of the NSA Tracking You? Burn Them with a Burner Phone Sick 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 “), 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.


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.

DownloadDisa (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.

Explore more about: Google Hangouts, SMS.

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  1. Joe Janulewicz
    October 4, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    Mr. Yamada, how stupid are you? You have college degrees, but no common sense.
    I value my privacy and my money. I do not tweet or have a Facebook profile. I use an android with GH on WIFI only. No monthly bills. Period. I want an ad free cost free app in order to send and receive texts because so many dummies ASSUME that you can text. And use VM. INSANE
    I am struggling with a 138 page tutorial for my Sony. I guess if I was used to an Iphone it would be easy. I'm not, it isn't.
    I am formally offering my services to you in order to edit and filter your articles so that ANYONE can read and understand them and make use of them.

    • Kannon Yamada
      October 5, 2017 at 12:57 am

      Hi Joe, thanks for the comment. Also, thank you for the offer to help improve this article.

      In the future, I'll try to use less jargon and write clearer -- in future articles. This article, I'm afraid is probably not going to receive additional edits to make it more legible. We just don't have the man power to do that.

      Can you some of the abbreviations that you've used? I'm not sure what GH or VM is. Thanks for reading and my apologies for not meeting your standards.

      • Joe Janulewicz
        December 29, 2017 at 5:22 pm

        OK, I guess I should apologize. I try to use Boolean logic properly but with the use of the Google algorithm to search for "free" replacements and this article was included.
        "GH" - Google Hangouts.."VM" - Voice Mail.."CL ad" - (in the subject line..Craigslist ad)
        Dead serious about helping. I teach older folks how to eliminate phishing emails by creating emails under fake know it's not a friend when it is addressed to "Mr. List"
        Mozilla, Google Ghostery, Privacy Badger, Bloody Vikings, Adblock, and the FSF (free software Foundation) for all other programs...all free.

        • Kannon Y
          December 30, 2017 at 4:24 pm

          Thanks again, if you have any tips, let me know and I'll try to use them.

    • Craig
      December 28, 2017 at 10:15 pm

      jesus Joe, dude can you be more insulting? Mr. Yamada is simply trying to give you advice, free to you. You don't have to agree, if not walk away. I for one appreciate this good advice, thank you Kannon.

  2. Prasanta Shee
    May 11, 2017 at 6:50 am

    Best Google Hangouts replacement is using tools like webex, R-HUB web video conferencing servers etc. They work well.

  3. Frank
    April 19, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    I have been using an app called EvolveSMS with much success. It has a couple idiosyncrasies to get used to but seems to be reliable.

    • Kannon Yamada
      April 22, 2017 at 7:45 pm

      Looks like a cool app! Thanks for sharing Frank!

    • Kannon Yamada
      April 22, 2017 at 7:51 pm

      EvolveSMS appears to be a SMS replacement app -- but it doesn't send free SMS. Does it have any thing that's way better than the stock Android Messages app?

  4. Why Google
    April 18, 2017 at 12:11 am

    Doesn't support Hangouts integration

    • Kannon Yamada
      April 22, 2017 at 7:45 pm

      It looks like (in the short term) that Hangouts and Voice will continue to work together in the near future.

  5. SJP
    April 17, 2017 at 11:52 pm

    Voice app and website have a dialer. On the app click the magnifying glass upper right. The contacts all show up, you can search and there is a dial pad icon if you want type in the number. So IDN what I'm missing.

    • Kannon Yamada
      April 22, 2017 at 7:52 pm

      I'll give Voice app a look-see. Thanks for the tip!

      • SJP
        April 22, 2017 at 8:11 pm

        Voice Website will dial. But, as of now, and it may change, but App is FU and will not dial. You have to add t contacts first.

      • SJP
        April 22, 2017 at 8:16 pm

        Website will dial any number. App will not unless you add to contacts first. That may change.

  6. R
    April 17, 2017 at 2:26 am

    Concur with Charley B...Ridden the Grain roller coaster since2005...Time to disembark. Signal by WhisperSystems is my Hangouts replacement, and is Foss plus encryption option.

    • Kannon Yamada
      April 22, 2017 at 7:52 pm

      I'm also leaning toward Signal. I just wish it offered more of the features that Hangouts did. And it sucks that it requires a SIM card + phone number in order to work.

      • SJP
        April 22, 2017 at 8:15 pm

        Website will dial any number. App will not unless you add to contacts first. That may change.

      • R
        May 9, 2017 at 1:38 am

        Signal will allow you to register your GVoice # on a phone device, or a Voip # (which GVoice is not). Discovered during testing if you use GVoice on iOS, it does secure automatically. Trying to use based on merits other than secure, as that didn't exist in Hangouts or GVoice, but thought it was worth mentioning.

  7. R
    April 17, 2017 at 2:23 am

    Signal by WhisperSystems...

  8. Charley B
    April 14, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    Hilarious. As a longtime user of Google Voice back when it was still called Grand Central. I used Groove IP and my best until they dropped the third party licensed components of Google Voice and then GrooVe IP and other programs became orphaned. This started the move to hangouts. When they finally got SMS integration, voicemail transcription, MMS pictures videos and even the dialer integrated everything else fell into the shadows for me. Now they are undoing all that work and make us go back to the fragmented system that we had. It's good to know that Google Voice is getting better but I was so doubtful Hangouts with ever get as good as it has gotten. We can only hope that there's a solution in the pipe. Allo and Duo haven't ever turned out to be what they were supposed to, either.

    • no
      April 21, 2017 at 3:57 am

      not enough money in selling private citizens text messages..they will convert only to enterprise and sell corporate text messages for profit.

    • Kannon Yamada
      April 22, 2017 at 7:54 pm

      It's sad. Hangouts and Voice will continue to maintain SMS integration, though. But only if you have Google Voice. I'm pretty sure they plan on killing off SMS integration eventually though, even for Voice users.