Google is bringing its Project Fi VPN service to all of your connections. This is in an effort to help protect and secure all of your connections, though this is still for Project Fi users only. Google says that its "enhanced network also enables a fast, seamless connection by intelligently switching between WiFi and cellular". Which is how Project Fi works, you will never notice a drop in coverage with Project Fi, because the switch is seamless. Now, when you are connected to any of over 2 million WiFi hotspots across the US, Project Fi's VPN technology will keep you secure.
Bringing this over to all of its users means that users are going to get enhanced security and privacy, which is definitely important here. Google says that when you enable its enhanced network, all of your mobile and WiFi traffic is going to be encrypted and securely sent through its virtual private network (or VPN). This is going to happen on every network that you are connected to, so you won't need to worry about using a free and unsecured WiFi network, where your information could get stolen, or others could see your online activity – and that includes Google. The search giant touts that its VPN is designed so that traffic is not tied to your Google account or phone number, as it should be. This is also going to allow for faster connections, and switching seamlessly. With this new enhanced network, you'll never need to worry about reconnecting to the network. If you've ever left your home and walked outside to your car, then you know that there is a period of time where WiFi signal is either very low or non-existent, before it picks up LTE signal from your wireless carrier. With this enhanced network, that is a thing of the past. Google touts that in its testing, it has reduced the time without a working connection by around 40-percent.
Background: When Google launched Project Fi a few years ago, many were skeptical about it. This was partly because Google has a history of just closing up products without much notice. Something that it has done recently with Google+, YouTube Gaming and Inbox. But also because it runs on (at the time) two networks, and will automatically switch to WiFi network as you walk past them or are at different places that have free WiFi. With Project Fi, users have access to over two million different WiFi hotspots, that Project Fi will connect to automatically. But Project Fi uses a VPN service that keeps your network activity nice and secure, even while on an unsecured network. Which made many others feel more secure about using these WiFi hotspots, especially since they do help you save some money on your data each month.
The VPN has been pretty seamless over the years. When you connect to a WiFi hotspot – which is done automatically, actually – it will also connect to the VPN, which is a nice thing to have happen. You can walk into a Starbucks and never worry about having to connect to the network or set up your VPN to protect your web browsing. It's all done automatically by Google and Project Fi. And now that Google is expanding this to all Project Fi connections, whether that's WiFi or mobile connections, is definitely a good thing. These days, many are worried about the government and others spying on them while they are using the internet. And now, that won't be an issue, as not even Google is spying on you, or seeing what you are doing on the internet – other than the usual data collection for ads.
Impact: While Project Fi doesn't have a huge subscriber-base, like Sprint or T-Mobile, it does have a pretty decent amount of users. And this technology could be used by other wireless carriers to help protect their customers. As this is a pain point for many subscribers, being able to connect to WiFi hotspots (which often times have better speeds than mobile networks in some areas), and not worry about possibly having their data stolen while connected to that network. You ever wonder why security experts stress to never log into bank accounts on a WiFi network at Starbucks, McDonald's or anywhere else that has free WiFi? That is because it is very easy for hackers to hack into the network and see what you've been doing on the network and get that username and password. But with a VPN, that is no longer an issue, as all of your traffic is encrypted. Though usually that can also make your connection much slower, as your data has to pass through the VPN first before it heads to the network. But that's not the case with Project Fi's VPN, Google has done a ton of work here that helps to keep the network fast, and in some instances, it is actually faster than the network without a VPN.
Google says in its blog post that it is going to begin rolling out its enhanced network later this week to Fi-compatible phones running on Android Pie. Project Fi users will be able to enable it at anytime in the Fi Network Tools within the Project Fi app. Unfortunately, this is not available for all carriers, which isn't a surprise, since this is running on Project Fi only. Many may be wondering what the difference is between this and how the VPN has worked all along. Well, the VPN only worked on WiFi Hotspots in Google's network. So if you went to your local coffee shop, which has free WiFi but it's not in Google's network, the VPN would not turn on nor would the phone connect to it automatically. Now, with the enhanced network, it will turn on the VPN for any and every connection to your smartphone. Whether you are connected to your home WiFi, T-Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular or a WiFi network at Walmart. You can check out the full details on the Google Blog.