It looks like Google is moving its focus away from Hangouts and toward other solutions. Although not unexpected, the company today started sending emails to Mobile Service partners saying that Hangouts would be removed from the core Android apps package.
What that means is that hardware manufacturers will no longer have to bundle Hangout with their new hardware, a change that will take effect starting on December 1, according to a report from Android Police.
So what’s replacing Hangouts? Google Duo, it seems. Duo is Google’s new video chatting app, which offers a number of new features, such as “knock knock,” which allows the person being called to see a feed of the person calling them before they answer the call.
It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean that Hangouts is dead. It just means that if you want to continue using it on your Android device, you’ll need to head to the Play Store and download it yourself rather than having it preinstalled on any new Android device you buy. This also doesn’t mean that manufacturers can’t bundle Hangouts with their phones — although it’s likely that they won’t as a way to push their own apps and services.
It is somewhat interesting that it’s Duo replacing Hangouts and not Allo, but it does highlight that Google has a big focus on video messaging. As you might remember, Hangouts had video messaging functionality as well. It’s also interesting that Allo isn’t already mandatory as an app on Android, especially given the fact that Allo has an uphill battle ahead of it in competing with services like Facebook Messenger, Kik, WhatsApp, and so on.
Google’s message to partners notes that the company will continue to support Hangouts for the foreseeable future, which makes sense. It seems as though Hangouts is being pivoted to a business messaging platform, so we’ll continue to see improvements made to the app over time.