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(Pocket-lint) - Several Android users have found themselves fancying a third-party messaging app from Google Play, over the stock one provided within the OS. WhatsApp, HandSMS, Go SMS Pro, and others are among the top choices among users. Google realises this and has announced plans to cater to the select bunch.

Over on the Android Developers blog, Google says Android 4.4 KitKat will bring support for third-party text messaging apps to be set as default. Several developers have done this in roundabout ways in previous versions of Android, something Google discourages. Now the company is making it available in a legit way through a set of KitKat APIs.

We'll spare you the developer jargon, but the APIs will give SMS and MMS apps downloaded from Google Play access to system wide features, taking place of the stock messaging app.

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Better yet, the new APIs lead us to believe Google is close to releasing an updated version of its Hangouts app with integrated SMS and MMS - a highly requested feature. If Google comes up with what several users have requested in the past, the company could have a serious Apple iMessage competitor on its hands. Android Police posted screenshots last week indicating the feature is on its way.

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Google shows a pop-up box when a user wants to change their default SMS app. Word of the SMS features within Android 4.4 KitKat features comes the day before Google is expected to unveil the mobile OS to the world.

Writing by Jake Smith. Originally published on 15 October 2013.