The demotion of Google Hangouts is continuing with Google sending an email to their Google Mobile Services (GMS) partners after their event on Wednesday morning advising that Hangouts will no longer be required to be bundled with new phone hardware.
The email to GMS partners, which was forwarded to Android Police, says that pre-installation of Hangouts is now optional:
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.
According to Android Police, the app that will take the place of Hangouts, is not Allo, the app which includes the new Google Assistant, but Duo, the companies one-to-one video calling service.
In Auguts, Google advised that they would now focus Hangouts on its business users rather than a consumer feature. This change to what is seen as their only cross platform messaging platform is a bit strange with even the combination of Allo and Duo failing to cover all the bases that Hangouts covers.
Still, it seems that Allo and Duo is the future, like it or not. Allo is set to get more features, as is Duo, but the move to include Duo and not Allo as a default app on the phone seems a little odd.
You can always download Hangouts from Google Play after you receive your new phone, but like any app you have to install yourself it will be interesting to see how many people continue to return to Hangouts after they purchase a new phone.