Google seems to be duplicating apps these days and there are two email apps, Gmail and Inbox, and two messaging apps, Hangouts and Messenger. The big question is whether the company will eventually phase out the old apps and force people to use the new ones. For now though, you can choose to use either apps for email and messaging. Should you switch from Hangouts to Messenger?

Although Hangouts has received many updates since it was launched, it is still very much an old style of app and it does not really fit in with the latest Android 5 Lollipop with its Material design. Google Messenger fits right in and it looks lovely, with a very clean and simple design. This is a Lollipop app, but it runs on older versions of Android too, so you don’t have to wait for your phone manufacturer to push out the latest OS update. You can get it and use it now because it runs on Android 4.1 and up.

Finding the app in the Google Play Store is not easy because there are multiple messaging apps called Messenger and you must check the developer name to make sure you get the Google app.

After downloading and installing it, tap the menu button in the top right corner of the screen and select Settings. You then have the option to set Messenger as the default SMS app. While you are in Settings, you can turn on notifications, vibrate, and select the sound you want when new messages arrive.

Google Messenger . Messenger for Android

Messenger imports all your messages, so you can continue messaging people exactly as you did before in Hangouts. Contact names and photos are shown where available, but if not, there is a head and shoulders icon and phone number. It looks clean and simple, and about a zillion times better than the clunky default messaging app that came with my Samsung Galaxy S4.

 

To create a new conversation you just tap the big plus button at the bottom. Your most frequent contacts are listed and tapping one adds them to the To box, but you can also browse all your contacts or type directly into the To box. Your contacts have photos where available, or a colourful icon showing the first letter.

Google Messenger . Messenger for Android

The button in the top right corner enables you to switch to the numeric keypad so that you can enter any phone number to send an SMS message.

After adding one contact in the To box, you can tap the button in the top right corner to select additional contacts so that you can have a group discussion with your mates.