When Google releases version 4.4 of its Android operating system — which following the Android naming convention of desserts will be called “KitKat” — one new feature will allow users to choose any app as the phone’s default text messaging app.
This feature will be a boon to users who want to use another service, whether it is Google Voice, or any third-party texting service, in lieu of the default SMS app on the device.
Reporting on the new feature, The Verge noted that many third-party SMS and MMS apps on the market today have used roundabout ways to get access to users’ text messages, which Google frowned upon, so rather than locking down access to messages further, Google will make it so that users can have the option of using other apps more easily.
The report from The Verge also notes previous rumors that Google will bundle its SMS/MMS app with Google Hangouts in an attempt to create a competitor to Apple’s iMessage service, which lets users handle both SMS and MMS messages, as well as chat messages across devices. More details will need to be revealed about such functionality to better understand whether such a move would achieve the popularity on Android that iMessage has on iOS devices, however.
Perhaps the best use of allowing users to choose a new default text messaging app, in these times of concerns over privacy, may be the ability to set as default an encrypted SMS app like TextSecure, so users can always send their texts in a more secure fashion.