Google officially announced Android 4.4 KitKat as the next major version of its mobile operating system well over a month ago, but since then the company hasn't actually revealed anything about the update itself or what new features it might contain. That's changed today, as Google has taken to its official Android Developers Blog to announce some changes that are coming to SMS apps with KitKat.
Google explains that Android 4.4 will introduce the concept of a default SMS app that the user can select to send and receive text messages. Rather than force developers to use hidden APIs in their apps to achieve this, Google will be making these APIs public in KitKat in order to improve the user experience and make messaging more predictable. The company goes on to cover the steps necessary to make a default SMS app using KitKat's APIs and teases that it plans to provide the necessary Android 4.4 SDK components for compiling and testing apps "soon."
One of the rumored features coming with Android 4.4 is the ability to use Google's Hangouts app to send and receive SMS/MMS in addition to the standard IMs that it currently handles. Today's announcement shouldn't be taken as a guarantee that SMS support is indeed coming to Hangouts, but it does lay the groundwork for an app like Hangouts or some third-party offering to be a user's default SMS/MMS app. Even if such a feature doesn't make the KitKat cut, though, it's good to see Google make these APIs public and working to make the SMS experience better for devs and users. The full rundown on how to make an app eligible to be the default for SMS can be found at the link below.