Duo and Google Messages are among the best communications 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 may soon no longer be able to run Duo and Messages. XDA Developers and 9to5Google have uncovered strings that show that apps will soon stop working on unsupported devices.
<string name="ip_compliance_warning_message">On March 31, Messages will stop working on uncertified devices, including this one.</string>
The Messages string is as clear as it can be. If Google passes through the certification requirement for Messages, users with uncertified phones may 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 do not ship with Google apps, such as recent Huawei phones, Chinese ROM phones, and, of course, custom ROMs. XDA Developers suspects that the move will follow the RCS end-to-end encryption roll-out, as the company cannot guarantee that the uncertified device will not be compromised.
<string name="grace_period_notification_body">"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."</string>
<string name="grace_period_notification_title">Duo is going away soon</string>
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.