This story was originally published and last updated .
Duo and Google Messages are among the best communication apps Google has ever released, so it's no surprise that they're incredibly popular even among people whose phones ship without Google apps. Unfortunately, it looks like those uncertified phones might soon not be able to run Duo and Messages anymore. XDA Developers and 9to5Google have uncovered strings that reveal that the apps will soon stop working on unsupported devices.
The Messages string is as clear as it can get. If Google pulls through with the certification requirement for Messages, users with uncertified phones might soon see the following message in the app: "On March 31, Messages will stop working on uncertified devices, including this one." This should only affect a small fraction of Android phones that don't ship with Google apps, like recent Huawei phones, phones with Chinese ROMs, and of course custom ROMs. XDA Developers suspects the move comes following the RCS end-to-end encryption rollout since the company can't guarantee that an uncertified device isn't compromised.
Google Duo users with uncertified phones will see a similar message saying: "Because you're using an unsupported device, Duo will unregister your account on this device soon. Download your Clips and call history to avoid losing them." Even though these strings don't explicitly mention "uncertified" devices, 9to5Google says that a look at the code reveals that the change is related to "GmsCompilance." GMS is short for Google Mobile Services, the package responsible for bringing Google's core apps and important APIs including the Play Services to certified phones. In contrast to Messages, there's no firm deadline yet.
If Google pulls through with the change, people with uncertified phones will soon have to look for other solutions. Perhaps Signal could be a good replacement for both — it supports sending and receiving SMS in addition to its text and video chat service.
Updated to include that the latest version of Duo also has strings that point to its incoming demise on uncertified phones.
- XDA Developers