Remember when Google debuted their new Allo and Duo apps and reassured us that despite these new apps, Hangouts would not be going anywhere? Turns out that was partially true. As of the 1st of December, Google will no longer require Hangouts to be preinstalled on Android phones.
This is according to an email sent to the company’s Mobile Services partners, in which Google made a change to the core GMS package. “Today, we are announcing that Google Duo will replace Hangouts within the suite of core GMS apps, and Hangouts will become GMS Optional for telephony products. This change will take effect on December 1, 2016.”
In case you did not know, Google usually requires OEMs to bundle a suite of Google apps/services if they want to use Android on their phones. For a while now Hangouts was one of the default apps but like the email reads, Hangouts will no longer be a required app and will be replaced by Duo.
This doesn’t mean that Hangouts is dead. OEMs still have the option of bundling Hangouts if they want, but they are just no longer required to. Interestingly enough we had always assumed that if anything, Allo would be a more suitable replacement for Hangouts, not Duo. n the meantime Google is expected to focus Hangouts on its business users.