Android being open source software allows it to be installed on devices and used in cases that Google may have never imagined or allowed. Those include some set-top boxes, desktops, laptops, watches, single-board computers or SBCs, and everything in between. Google, however, does have a system in place that keeps Android from spiraling out of its control completely. One such system involves keeping Google apps out of these “uncertified” devices, like what it will be doing with Google Messages and, soon, Google Duo.
Google has a certification process in place for devices that want to ship with Google Play apps and services. Given how these have become part and parcel of the Android experience, it is pretty much Google’s strategy to keep devices and manufacturers in line without technically changing Android’s open source nature. In other words, anyone who wants to be considered a serious commercial Android device will have to be approved by Google and, consequentially, follow its rules.
There are ways for uncertified devices to get hold of those Google Play components, none of which are sanctioned by Google, of course. This is pretty much the only way that users of third-party Android ROMs, Amazon Fire devices, or even recent Huawei phones will be able to get access to Gmail, Chrome, and the like. Google, however, seems to be coming out with a way to block even that, at least for its messaging apps.
Following revelations about Google Messages, 9to5Google discovered in the latest version of Google Duo that the video calling app will stop working on “unsupported”, meaning uncertified, devices. Accounts in Google Duo on that device will be unregistered and users are advised to download their clips and call history before that happens.
Google Messages’ warning says that it will take effect on March 31 this year but now such hint was discovered for Google Duo. These changes could prove to be controversial and, unfortunately for affected users, there’s really no getting around that Google has the right to withhold the use of its apps as it sees fits. One can only hope that Google doesn’t push through with the changes or, worse, use the same tactic for all its other apps on uncertified devices.