Google has started the rollout of end-to-end encrypted video calling app Duo as the company rejigs its video chat line-up to take on Apple's FaceTime video calling service.
Announced at this year's Google I/O, Duo, along with its AI messaging app Allo, are set to supersede not only Google Hangouts but even more functionality from Google+.
The Duo rollout has begun for those who pre-registered as part of Google Play's new Early Access scheme. It's based on your phone number, like WhatsApp.
Google has confirmed in a blog post that the release is worldwide and will be completed in the next few days, bringing it into direct competition with apps like WhatsApp and FaceTime and possibly finally bringing video calling to the mainstream.
It also includes a feature called Knock Knock that allows the person being called to see the caller before answering the phone.
"Knock Knock makes video calling more spontaneous and welcoming, helping you connect with the person before you even pick up," Google claimed.
So where does this leave Hangouts? The short answer is 'de-emphasised', with plans to concentrate it on the enterprise sector.
One early feature that will be gone, however, is Hangouts OnAir, the vaguely Periscope-like feature which still tangles Hangouts with Google+. This will be removed from Plus and will become part of YouTube from 12 September. YouTube Live, to be precise.
Google has already confirmed that if you have a live event planned on Hangouts after 12 September you will need to set it back up again on YouTube. Hmm. A migration tool would have been nice. But if it's going to affect only about five people it probably wasn't worth the development cost.
What all this means for the long-term future of Google+ is a matter for the speculation of ages, and its demise has been foretold many times. It still has a place in the company, but Google+ and Hangouts are starting to look a bit thin on the ground.
As for Allo, there's no date announced for this yet, but it's a fair hunch that it won't be too much longer.
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