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Google Hangouts is coming back to iOS, but only if you have the link

Late last month, Google pulled its classic Hangouts app from the 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 pushing people away from its Hangouts app, moving them and their chat histories to Google Chat (formerly Hangouts Chat), which is also integrated with Gmail. This effort resulted last month in the removal of the app from the Google Play Store and the App Store.

In the case of the former, Google simply made the app unavailable to those who haven’t installed it yet, further hiding it from search results. On iOS, Hangouts was simply removed from the App Store entirely, making it completely 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 list didn’t work.

In an interesting turn of events, Hangouts has now been restored to the iOS App Store as an unlisted app. As explained by our colleagues from 9to5MacUnlisted apps allow developers and businesses to share their apps without appearing in consumer search results.

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

If you want to continue using the original Hangouts app on your iOS device, rather than migrating to Google Chat, you can do so quickly, as it’s unclear how long Google will leave the app on the store.

Conversely, Google has made it clear that the classic Hangouts app is on its way out and the mobile app will soon stop working. It already does for those with Workspace accounts, and it’s only a matter of time before that original Hangouts app is disabled for everyone else as well. So far, however, the company has not announced a firm timeline for this shutdown.

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