Android Device Makers No Longer Have to Pre-Load Hangouts

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With the launch of its Duo video-chat app, Google continues to move away from its chat service Hangouts. Now, it's taking things one step further by removing Hangouts from the apps that Android partners must install on their devices.

As Android Police reports, Google emailed its Mobile Services partners last week to notify them that effective Dec. 1, "Google Duo will replace Hangouts within the suite of core GMS apps, and Hangouts will become GMS Optional for telephony products."

What does this mean for Android users? Basically, those who purchase Google-backed Android phones in the future might not find a pre-loaded Hangouts app. If it's not there, you can still download it from Google Play, though.

Android is an open-source platform that any phone maker can use; while Google would prefer that partners pre-load its own apps, they are not required to do so. But it's basically an all-or-nothing proposition. Either you go with the Android Open Source Platform (AOSP) and launch with no Google services, or choose Google and bundle all the apps its requires (Search, Chrome, YouTube, Maps, etc.)

It's a strategy that has drawn scrutiny from regulators—phone makers can't mix and match pre-loaded apps from different companies—but it's the only way to get Google Play on a device.

For more, see PCMag's review of the Duo app.

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