Remember Hangouts? That app that you routinely ignore since you have other more popular options like WhatsApp, Telegram or Messenger? Well it has been part of the suite of Google Apps that have to be installed in every Android phone shipped by an OEM (like Samsung or HTC).
Hangouts has always been the Messenger service in that suite of apps but the arrival of Google Allo meant that position is up for grabs. Allo has newer capabilities like the fun Google Assistant and incognito mode while Duo handles video calls. Although Hangouts has features we see on Messenger like video calls, stickers, emojis and the likes, it seems like Google has given up on it.
The fact that Google decided to launch Allo and Duo while Hangouts was still in the mix was rather odd and now we are seeing a change to that thanks to a report by Android Police published three days ago. Apparently, Google will no longer require OEMs to bundle Hangouts with their new hardware which should deal a blow to the app. This is the statement the publication got from an email sent by Google to the Google Mobile Service partners.
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
It is rather odd that Duo is taking Hangouts spot instead of Allo but it could make sense from Google’s point since they see it as an app people use for video calling. However apparently on that email, Google promised to continue supporting Hangouts for Android so if you’re a regular user, there is no need for panic