As of December 1, 2016, Google will no longer require Hangouts to be pre-installed on Android smartphones.
In an email sent out to Google Mobile Services partners on October 5, the company explained that Hangouts is moving to ‘optional’ status in the Google Apps package for Android beginning December 1, 2016. What’s replacing Hangouts? Duo, Google’s new cross-platform video calling app. An excerpt from the email can be found below:
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.
Now, it’s quite interesting that Google Allo isn’t replacing Hangouts as a pre-installed app in the GMS package. Love it or hate it, Allo and Hangouts are, at their core, messaging apps, while Duo is only used for video chatting. Plus, getting Allo installed on more devices will give more users the opportunity to try it out, thus establishing the user base it currently lacks.
The same could be said for Duo, though. Video calling is of course still very important, so much so that Google made an app dedicated to it. Hangouts also featured video calling, so it makes sense Google would want to replace that with something.
No, Hangouts is not dead: you’ll still be able to download it from the Play Store. Plus, this change only means OEMs are no longer required to pre-install it on Android phones. That doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily stop, although it’s very likely. As you may recall, Google is said to be shifting Hangouts towards business customers and away from everyday consumers, so this change does make a lot of sense.