Google’s Contacts and Phone apps for Android caused a great deal of confusion last week: The apps, which come pre-installed on many phones, suddenly became available on Google Play for some users, only to disappear without explanation for others.
So, what gives? Are these apps — seen as vital Google apps by many — coming or going? The answer, provided to us by a Google spokesperson, is somewhere in between.
First, it’s worth noting that these apps were never really available to all Android users; instead, they were only available to folks with Nexus and Android One phones, or some devices that run stock Android and thus fall under Android’s “Google Play Edition” category. These include a special version of the Samsung Galaxy S4, the HTC One and One M8, Motorola Moto G and some others, most of which aren’t sold in stores anymore.
However, these apps weren’t available on Google Play before last week; they came with Android on the devices mentioned above, and were only updated with Android. Last week, Google started listing these apps in the Play store, but only to people who already have them.
“We’re now listing (these apps) in the Play Store so we can deliver improvements more rapidly,” a Google spokesperson told Mashable.
So why are the apps disappearing? The answer is simple: gradual rollout.
“Given how essential ‘Phone’ and ‘Contacts’ are, we’re rolling them out cautiously and gradually. Due to the way the update system works, some users (but not all) may have seen Phone and Contacts in Google Play but now can’t any longer,” the spokesperson said.
The rollout will continue “in the days ahead,” so the answer to all this hubbub boils down to the good, old “coming soon.”
If you have one of the devices mentioned above, you should be able to get Google Phone here, and Google Contacts here.