Google announced a new VPN service on October 29, 2020. It's called Google One VPN and is included in the Google One subscription service. It's yet another feature that Google has added to Google One, giving it even more value.
Everyone should have a VPN, for many different reasons. And it's good to see Google offering one for free. The easiest way for someone to start using a VPN, is to give it to them for free. As this is another perk that is being added to Google One. A lot like what Amazon has been doing with Prime, Google is adding more perks to One, to make it a more interesting service. So users can really get their money's worth with Google One.
What is a VPN?
What exactly is a VPN? Well, it stands for Virtual Private Network.
With a VPN, you will be able to browse the web using a secure connection, that hackers won't be able to see what you're doing (or steal your information), and you can also get around restricted websites. For example, if you are in China for a few days and need to use Google, you'll need to use a VPN to do so. Which can get around the region-restriction, by connecting to another server in another country and it tells the internet that you are located elsewhere, like France, rather than China.
The biggest reason why people need a VPN is public WiFi. If you've ever used WiFi at Starbucks, McDonalds or even the airport, chances are you've connected to an unsecure WiFi network. Which makes it easier for hackers to steal your data. So when you use a public WiFi network, make sure to flip on your VPN, and you'll be secured.
What is Google One VPN?
Google One VPN, is basically Google's own VPN that it is offering to Google One subscribers. Though, only if you subscribe to the 2TB or higher plan, which means you are paying $9.99/month for it. Technically, Google One VPN is free, since it is being included with Google One's 2TB plan, which was already $9.99 before Google One VPN was announced.
It's basically a VPN for those that are not tech literate. As it is essentially just a toggle in the Google One app. Just flip the switch and boom, you're connected. There's no settings for things like which server you are connecting to, or when to disconnect and so forth.
The only downside here is that you will have a persistent notification saying that you are connected. You can also move the VPN quick setting into your quick settings, so you can quickly enable it whenever you need it.
Google isn't new to the world of VPNs. It actually has used one for its customers on Google Fi for many years now. Essentially with Google Fi, whenever you connected to a public WiFi network, you would automatically be connected through Google Fi's VPN. As mentioned before, this is because Public WiFi networks are not secure. So while keeping you from using a lot of data, since Fi charges per gigabyte, it also kept you protected.
Now, Google is just moving its VPN to where everyone can use it. Whether they are a Fi customer or not.
Should I trust Google with more of my data?
This is the million dollar question. Should you use this VPN. And trust Google with even more of your data? Because once you enable the VPN, everything you do online, routes through Google's servers. While Google, arguably already has a lot of data on you, this VPN is going to give it even more.
However, and this is important, Google has said numerous times that it will not use the VPN connection to track, log or sell your browsing activity. But then again, how will we know that Google is not doing that? We won't. And that goes for any other company too.
It's up to you, whether you trust Google not to collect this data when you're using its VPN. But don't forget, that if Google really wanted that data, it could easily get it from your Android smartphone too. So the real question is, what new data would Google be getting with this VPN? However, if you've been using Google services for this long, what kind of data do that not have of yours right now? Probably not much.
Google vs a third-party VPN
If you do have reservations about Google having more data on you, thanks to this VPN, you can always use a third-party. Like Express VPN, Opera VPN or even NordVPN, to name a few. However, they can also store and collect your data. Even though they promise that they don't – similar to Google.
With Google, they are betting that because you already use Google services, and the ease of using this VPN, that you're more likely to use this than a competitor. Seeing as these competitors charge at least $3/month just for a VPN. Meanwhile with Google, you're paying at least $9.99 per month, but you are also getting a whole lot more than just a VPN.
If you need the ability to be able to change what server you are on, switching to Paris from Los Angeles for instance, then a third-party VPN is going to be a must-have for you. But don't forget that some of these other VPN services out there, also have a cap on data. Meanwhile Google VPN has no cap on how much data goes through its VPN. So that's one more thing to keep in mind, and something that helps out Google, of course.
How do I get Google One VPN?
The VPN is only available through Google One. To be able to get access to it, you'll need to subscribe to its 2TB plan, or higher. Which costs $9.99 per month. Google One does have smaller plans that are for 100GB and 200GB, and unfortunately the VPN won't be available on those.
With that 2TB Google One plan, you're getting quite a bit of features. Not only do you get 2TB of storage for Gmail, Drive and Photos, but you are also getting 10% back when you shop on the Google Store. As well as the ability to add family members, and some other benefits. The ability to add your family members is a big deal actually. As you could opt for the 10TB plan for $50/month and split it four ways, making it much cheaper, and everyone gets access to that storage.
Google has not announced any plans yet, to roll out the VPN separately. So that customers can subscribe to just the VPN, without getting the extra storage. Though, considering Google is removing the unlimited free storage options on Google Photos and with Google Docs, you're going to need that storage.
How to use Google One VPN
Setting up the Google One VPN is super simple. Open up the Google One app, which should be pre-installed on your Android device. If not, you can grab it from the Google Play Store here.
Once you open up the Google One app, you should see a card at the very top, that says "Online Protection with a VPN" and there's a button that says "Enable VPN" Tap on that. If that is not available, tap on the "Benefits" tab, and you should see the card there.
This will take you to a new page, which has a toggle to enable the VPN. It also gives you a bit more information about the VPN. Telling you that you can stream, download and browse on an encrypted, private connection. And such.
From here you can tap on the toggle to turn on your VPN.
Now there is an easier way to do this, as the Google One app notes at the bottom of this page. You can add your VPN to the quick settings. So you can easily turn it on and off when needed.
Once the VPN is connected, it will show up in your notification shade, which you can see the status of the VPN and also disconnect at any time.
There are no settings here for changing the server that it is connected too. Or seeing how much data goes through the VPN and so forth. It's basically just on or off. Which makes it super simple for those that are not tech literate, and don't need all of those extra settings. That's where Google is really trying to target with this VPN.
What devices does it work on?
Currently, availability of the Google One VPN is somewhat limited. It's only available on Android and Chrome OS devices that support Android apps. Essentially that means that it only works on Android smartphones and tablets, Android TV, and Chromebooks (and Chromeboxes). Not Windows and MacOS computers, which would be a nice addition. That could change in the future, but it may not be as simple as toggling it on and off, as it currently is.
Basically, any device that can run the Google One app, has support for the VPN. Since the Google One app is not available on iOS either, that means that there's no support for the VPN there.
When will it work on desktop?
Google One VPN will be coming to desktop. It'll be available on Windows, MacOS and iOS in "the coming months" according to the company. It's likely going to take a bit longer since it's not as simple as including it in the Google One app. But it shouldn't take too long to become available.
And this is going to make it a whole lot easier to keep your browsing safe on all of the devices that you use. From your smartphone, to your tablet, to your TV and even your desktop (or laptop computer). That's going to keep you safe when you're browsing at home, or on the go. And you'll never need to worry about connecting to unsecure WiFi networks again, which is a big deal for some people (should be for everyone though).
Where is it available?
Like most of Google's new products, the new VPN is available in the US only right now.
This is partly because Google One is really only available in the US (it did just launch in the UK a couple of months ago though), and since it is part of Google One, it won't launch in any countries that doesn't have Google One. However, don't rule out the fact that it could come to other countries in the near future. This is not a feature that will likely remain US only forever.
If you are in the US, and subscribe to the 2TB or larger Google One service, then you can use the Google One VPN. Otherwise, you're out of luck, unfortunately. At least for now.
Is the VPN worth it?
Given the recent storage changes that Google has announced, most of us are likely going to be upgrading to the 2TB plan anyways. Which makes the VPN free. Or at least included. And that makes this VPN a lot more useful. As well as more likely to be used. It's definitely worth using, especially if you do a lot of traveling, or use a lot of public and/or unsecure WiFi networks.
The big issue though, with the Google One VPN, is that it is not available on everything. The biggest sticking point is computers. Normally when I travel, I take my laptop and do most of my work on that. Having the Google One VPN available on my laptop would be a huge help. Especially when trying to get around region-restricted websites. That is something Google is adding in the future, but as of right now, it's a no-show.
If the VPN is worth it for you, is only something you can answer though. It's always better to be safe than sorry. And let's face it, our ISPs don't need to know where we spend most of our time online, these days anyways.