At the end of last month, Google delisted its classic Hangouts app from iOS and Android app stores. Surprisingly, the soon to be retired Hangouts app has returned to the iOS App Store, but only if you have the link.

For a few years now, Google has been steadily moving people away from its Hangouts app, migrating them and their conversation histories over to Google Chat (previously Hangouts Chat), which is also built into Gmail. This effort culminated last month in the app being removed from both the Google Play Store and the App Store.

In the case of the former, Google has simply made the app unavailable to those who haven’t installed it before, additionally hiding it from search results. On iOS, Hangouts was simply delisted entirely from the App Store, making it fully unavailable to anyone who didn’t have it installed at the time. At the time, we noted that even the direct link to the app listing did not work.

In an interesting turn of events, Hangouts has now been restored to the iOS App Store in the form of an unlisted application. As explained by our colleagues at 9to5Mac, unlisted applications allow developers and companies to share their apps without having them appear in search results for the broader public.

That being the case, if you want to get Hangouts back onto your iPhone or iPad, you can’t simply search for it in the App Store, nor does Hangouts appear in the list of Google’s apps. You’ll need to use a direct link to Hangouts’ app listing, which notably still uses the same URL as before.

If you have any wish to continue using the original Hangouts app on your iOS device, rather than migrating to Google Chat, you may want to do so quickly, as there’s no telling how long Google will leave the app on the store.

Conversely, Google has made it clear that the classic Hangouts app is on the way out, and the mobile application will soon cease to work altogether. This is already the case for those with Workspace accounts, and it’s only a matter of time before this original Hangouts app is similarly disabled for everyone else. So far, though, the company has not announced a firm timeline for that shutdown.

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Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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