Google has outlined a very significant change to the Google Mobile Services package through an e-mail that was sent to the GMS partners about the telephony-enabled Android-based devices, basically called the smartphones.
From December 1st, Google Hangouts will be demoted to become optional and will no longer be required to be bundled with any new hardware. The e-mail also mentioned that the Google Duo will be replacing Hangouts within the array of the core GMS apps, and Hangouts will become optional to the GMS package of the telephony products.
Well, this definitely does not mean that Hangouts for Android or Google hangouts as such is a dead piece now. And for sure it does not mean that the smartphone manufacturers should not opt to include it in their phone models that will be releasing in 2017, which will then require the users to download the app from the Google Play Store after the initial setup, which of course is not a big deal. There is also no guarantee that the mobile manufacturers might stop bundling the Google Hangouts app on their mobile devices, which however is strongly assumed might happen, since the mobile operators and the OEMs will want to push in their very own messaging solutions which were competing with Hangouts, or look up to partners who would be paying them for the replacement on their mobile devices. This change from Google has given a lot of opportunities to wipe out that competition and will appeal the competitors.
Duo over Allo – A Credible Call by Google
The most interesting part of this change is that the mandatory post in the GMS package for the telephony-enabled Android devices will be taken up by Duo, the video-calling and chat app and not Allo, the other messaging app from Google. Surprisingly, it does make a lot of sense to replace the Hangouts with Duo instead of Allo. Google is looking at the Video-calling feature as a very important and a core OS trait and is trying to push it forward right now. The video-calling feature, which was also offered on Hangouts, is something that is limited and is offered by just a few carrier services and most third-party apps, so the chances of real success for Duo are high.
It is quite puzzling why Google did not make Allo also to be a mandatory app, especially since Allo is a bit uphill in its battle at this point with Duo. The reason for this might be that Allo being just a messaging app, it might garner a lot of competition in the market from the other popular third-party instant messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Line, Telegram, and many other similar ones.
However, Google reported to its GMS partners that it will still support Hangouts version for the Android-based devices and looks like there is no reason to doubt about that at least in the near future. Google seems to be changing the axis of Hangouts by converting it to a business communications platform and is expected to stay here for quite some time.