Google Hangouts has officially dropped support of SMS for non Project Fi or Google Voice users. The support ended yesterday and was something that had been planned since Google announced the change back in March.
The change is part of the overall strategy of Google to move their G Suite customers to the new Google Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat while leveraging Android Messages for SMS on Android devices. For consumers, the focus is on Google Allo and Duo to meet these communications needs.
For those readers who are on Project Fi (I am one of them) or using Google Voice, this change does not impact you. This change only impacts G Suite customers who are using carrier numbers to send and receive SMS messages. For Fi and Voice users, you can continue to use Hangouts as your SMS application on your phone and other devices. Personally, I’m still a big fan of using the app for SMS as it allows me to get messages (and reply) from my laptop, tablet and my phone. Right now, with the limitations of Allo, there is no alternative.