March 5, 2021

Google Messages won’t work on uncertified phones in a few months (Updated)

Updated: Some users may need to find a replacement for Google Duo, too.

Huawei Mate 40 Pro close up of ring camera

Credit: Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority
  • Code snippets found by XDA Developers suggest Google Messages won’t support uncertified devices after March 31, 2021.
  • Uncertified devices are those Android devices that Google hasn’t officially cleared to access its Mobile Services.
  • Since May 2019, new Huawei devices have fallen into that category.

Update: January 22, 2021 (12:10 AM ET): Yet another Google app could soon join Messages in ending its support for uncertified Android phones. As discovered by 9to5Google, Google Duo may cease to function on “unsupported devices� — devices that would not be compliant to run Google Mobile Services — in the future.

While it’s unclear when Google will strip the functionality of its video messaging app from unsupported phones, there’s no telling if this is the last of Google’s messaging app suite that will be affected.

Original article: January 20, 2021 (11:24 AM ET): Google Messages may soon stop working with uncertified Android phones, including those made by Huawei. New code snippets found by XDA Developers in version 7.7.203 of the app suggest the app won’t support devices it hasn’t officially certified to run Google Mobile Services (GMS) after March 31, 2021.

Related: Everything you need to know about RCS messaging

Huawei agreed to migrate its users to Messages in 2018 when Google was trying to build a critical mass of RCS adoption. However, when the US government put the company on the Commerce Department’s Entity List in 2019, Google could no longer work with Huawei. Since then, new Huawei devices have shipped without any Google-made apps, including Messages. But that’s not to say people haven’t been able to get around the ban. Messages is one the few first-party apps you can easily sideload on phones that don’t have access to GMS since you don’t need a Google account to use it. That won’t be the case as of later this year.

XDA suggests the upcoming restriction is likely tied to the fact Messages will support end-to-end encryption. Were Google to continue to allow uncertified devices to run Messages, it would be difficult for the company to guarantee conversations involving uncertified devices weren’t compromised. The feature is currently in beta, but an official rollout could start sometime this year.

If you’re currently using Google Messages on an uncertified device, consider checking out one of these alternatives before the cutoff date.