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When will Hangouts have a search function?

Hangouts icon JB

KitKat’s arrival introduced yet another big change in Android, namely in the default SMS application used by the platform. Since Google Hangouts started supporting SMS within the app, Google decided to switch to Hangouts as the default, bundled and system-embedded SMS app in the Nexus 5, for instance. I’m a big fan of Hangouts, with its aim to unify messaging across Google products. Even its attempt to take over SMS messaging (by letting you do a number-lookup, for instance) is laudable, if only to improve the messaging experience.

But there’s one thing missing in the Hangouts app: search.

It’s quite strange for a product built by the biggest search company to miss this feature on their messaging system. Search is certainly an important feature that comes in handy — even necessary — on a mobile device. If you want quick access to a message, but you don’t want to sift through a ton of conversations, there should be search. Want to remember bank codes, account numbers, promo codes, or other strings of text, there should be search to turn to. But instead, Android’s default messaging app now misses this feature.

Come to think of it, even Hangouts on Chrome does not have search!

The old Android stock messaging app had it. Why shouldn’t Hangouts?

And so this prompted me to look for alternative apps for SMS. I have mostly been using stock messaging apps, because I didn’t want to be bogged down by bloated third-party apps, advertising or a barrage of features that I did not use anyway. But the lack of search was something I found I needed to address. And so I ventured into third-party apps. Some were long-time favorites like chomp SMS, while some are relatively new releases, like Textra, hello sms and EvolveSMS.

But then I had a difficult realization: none of these SMS apps had a search function, either. I had to turn to 8sms to get the plain-Jane functionality and look of the original Android stock SMS app, plus a few extra features. For now, I’m happy with switching across hello for my conversations (love the tabbed interface!) and 8sms for searching. It’s good that KitKat now comes with system-wide SMS handling (meaning, among other things, that you can switch default SMS apps, and don’t have to worry about duplication in the notifications).

But still, I wonder when Hangouts will come with a built-in search function! Or even better: integration of SMS in KitKat’s search function. Anyone with me on this?