In its ongoing effort to push new chat software, Google won’t require Android phone makers to preload the Hangouts app as part of its core mobile app suite starting December 1st, according to Android Police. In its place, the company will instead include Duo, its recently released FaceTime competitor for instant video chatting. Hangouts isn’t totally going away. It will remain an optional member of the Google Mobile Services package, which Google requires manufacturers to install so consumers have integral services like the Chrome browser and Google Maps. However, the demotion means Hangouts will have significantly less visibility among new phone buyers if companies do decide to leave it out.
This does not mean manufacturers will decide to leave Hangouts wallowing in the Play Store. The app could very well make its way onto Android handsets for many months to come. And the app will be available for download even if it is left out of the GMS suite — that is until Google decides to shutter it. Still, the move is a telling one from the search giant, which has moved aggressively to promote Duo and its new artificial intelligence-powered chat app Allo. It’s a bit of a strange move that Allo won’t be a mandatory app in the GMS suite, as Android Police points out, but it could be included down the line. Right now, it’s clear Google wants to promote video chatting above all else.