29 Apr Learn More About Wi-Fi Assistant and Google VPN Service
As a new feature for Pixel and Nexus phones, tech company Google came up with Wi-Fi Assistant that comes with a built-in Google VPN service. This feature automatically connects the phone to any high-speed, open Wi-Fi hotspots nearby while securing an encrypted connection to protect your data. Even if you are connected to a public hotspot, you can still rest well knowing that nobody else can tamper with your data since the VPN is managed by Google itself.
Best VPN’s Douglas Crawford writes that Wi-Fi Assistant is “an outgrowth of Project Fi, Google’s mobile network service. Unlike regular cellular network providers, Project Fi does not supply internet access directly to customers.” However, Google has partnered with different cellular companies which include T-Mobile, Sprint, U.S. Cellular, and Three to authorize over a million Wi-Fi hotspots that meet some certain criteria. Crawford also writes that “Project Fi customers can seamlessly jump between these third party mobile networks and open Wi-Fi hotspots in order to get the best possible signal.”
The downside is that Project Fi is only currently available to U.S. customers, but internet users from abroad don’t have to worry since Google has partnered with international cellular companies so the Wi-Fi Assistant with Google VPN service can be used all over the world. This feature is also only usable through a recent ‘Google phone’ such as a Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, or Pixel phone that run on Android 5.1 Lollipop and newer.
Wi-Fi Assistant and Google VPN service only connects you to public hotspots that do not require a password. Although this clears out almost all of the choices since most hotspots are password-secured, it is already a unique feature that makes surfing more convenient.
Enabling Wi-Fi Assistant
- Go to Settings, then tap on Google > Networking > Wi-Fi Assistant.
- Toggle on or off to automatically connect to Wi-Fi hotspots while being protected by a Google VPN service.
- Once connected, a key or VPN icon will appear on your phone’s toolbar. Your Wi-Fi will also indicate that you are ‘Connected to Wi-Fi Assistant.’
About Google VPN Service
As said before, Wi-Fi Assistant works with open public hotspots, but you do not have to worry about your privacy since it is protected with Google VPN service, Google’s very own virtual private network.
Hackers who will try to intercept your data by packet-sniffing or tricking your hotspot to connect to a fraudulent Wi-Fi connection will fail. All of your data goes through an encrypted tunnel that can only be sent and received between your device and the servers at Google VPN service.
Google manages this VPN service and offers it to Nexus and Pixel phone owners for free. Aside from encrypting your data from public hotspots, it also conceals your activity from your ISP, prevent ISP throttling, and enables you to access restricted web content – but only if you connect with Wi-Fi Assistant.
Google VPN versus Commercial VPN
Before you go ahead and try Wi-Fi Assistant, you have to be able to know the basic differences between Google VPN service and a regular VPN. Here is what Google VPN service cannot do, according to BestVPN:
- Hide your internet activity from your ISP and mobile provider at all times. This includes when using your mobile connection and home Wi-Fi.
- Geo-spoof your location so you can watch services such as US Netflix and BBC iPlayer wherever you live in the world.
- P2P torrent download in safety.
These are just the basic differences. Wi-Fi Assistant and Google VPN service are only useable with Google phones, while a commercial VPN protects you at all times in any device. A commercial VPN also has different unique features such as anti DNS leak, DDoS protection, and many more.
However, Google VPN service also has its advantages, especially if you are already using a Google phone. Here is what Google says regarding Wi-Fi Assistant and Google VPN:
“To make open Wi-Fi networks safer, Wi-Fi assistant uses a virtual private network (VPN). The VPN protects your data from being seen by other users of the open network.
When a VPN is active, you’ll see a ‘Network may be monitored’ message. Google monitors system data. When you’re securely connected to a website (by HTTPS), VPN operators, like Google, can’t record your content. Google uses system data sent through VPN connections to:
- Provide and improve Wi-Fi assistant, including the virtual private network (VPN)
- Monitor for abuse
- Comply with applicable laws and regulations, or as required by court or government orders.”
Most users are not convinced by this feature though, since it only works with public hotspots, and almost every Wi-Fi connection today are secured with a password. However, we never know what circumstances may arise, so at least it is better to be protected with a VPN. Nonetheless, if you are a Google phone user, then this will definitely be a helpful addition to secure your privacy for free.