Pry yourself away from all the Android 5.0 update stuff for a moment, and you’ll notice quite a bit of additional software news happening today with Google and Android. Some of that involves updates to existing apps – nothing out of the ordinary for one of Google’s “update Wednesdays” – but this week the company also sees fit to break ground on a new (or reincarnated old) one, quietly releasing the stand-alone Messenger app.
Messenger almost feels like a step backwards from Google’s recent push to bring ALL your instant messaging – whether that’s straight-up IMs or old text messages – under the control of Hangouts; heck, even Google Voice is slowly seeing itself being swallowed-up by Hangouts. With KitKat, Hangouts took the place of the old Messaging app, but now it looks like Google’s reversing course, and this new Messenger is very much a pure SMS/MMS client.
What does this app’s presence mean for Google’s larger mobile messaging strategy? We wish we could tell you, but for the moment its intentions are quite opaque. All we know is that if Hangouts isn’t your jam, yet you still want to keep on top of your text messages, Google’s got a new official solution. And a pretty one, too, all decked out with the latest Material Design flourishes. But beyond that, we’re going to need Google itself to come forward with an explanation.