Google is making a big change to the way its devices handle SMS reception and delivery. There are many apps which use SMS capabilities of Android devices to offer their services to their users. Till now developers of such apps were using hidden APIs to build service, however Google has always discouraged this practice.
Scott Main and David Braun of Google explain the reason behind this discouragement, “…because hidden APIs may be changed or removed and new devices are not tested against them for compatibility.”
Then what would these developers do? Google is making their lives easier (or difficult). With Android KitKat, Google will provide developers with a fully supported set of APIs for building SMS apps and to make the user experience for messaging more predictable. “Android 4.4 (KitKat) makes the existing APIs public and adds the concept of a default SMS app, which the user can select in system settings,” write Android developers.
Google has strongly recommended developers to stop using the hidden APIs and make changed to their code to take advantage of open APIs.
With this change, Android will now offer users to chose the default SMS app, just the way users can select default apps to handle different kind of data or services. It also means that from now onward only one SMS app will be able to handle the incoming and out-going traffic as only this app will be able to send out messages or in a bit technical terms will be able to write to the database.
It has its own advantages and disadvantages – while it will discourage malicious apps from taking over SMS service of a device, it will pose challenges to those apps which use SMS features.