Google's Project Fi to Offer a Free VPN for Your Phone

Google is adding a new privacy perk to its Project Fi cellular service: a free VPN. Google's Project Fi to Offer a Free VPN for Your PhoneThe VPN will encrypt all the internet traffic streaming through Project Fi phones over Wi-Fi and cellular connections. The beta service will start rolling out to customers later this week.

For the uninitiated, a VPN or virtual private network essentially masks your internet traffic from the prying eyes of your internet service provider or whoever else might be on the network. It does this by rerouting the device’s traffic through a private server–in this case one owned by Google. That may sound a little unnerving, given the company’s history with data privacy.

But in a blog post, the tech giant said the VPN service is designed “so that your traffic isn’t tied to your Google account or phone number.” (We’ve asked Google for more details about this and whether the VPN will include a privacy policy.) The VPN service also promises to be fast. It’ll seamlessly encrypt your connection as you move between networks.

In addition, it can detect when your Wi-Fi connection is weak. When it does, your phone will automatically switch to the stronger cellular network. “In our testing, we’ve reduced the time without a working connection by up to 40 percent,” said Project Fi product manager Dak Chak in the blog post.

Project Fi uses the cellular networks from Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular, so there’s a good reason for the VPN. The new feature will appear as a software update for Project Fi-compatible phones running Android Pie, the latest version of the OS. You can enable it by going to the “Fi Network Tools” option in the Project Fi app. However, Google is warning that the VPN service will increase your data use by about 10 percent.

Prior to Tuesday’s announcement, Project Fi also offered customers access to 2 million Wi-Fi hotspots that were secured with Google’s VPN technology.

If you’re not a Project Fi subscriber, you can still get access to a mobile VPN service.

You can find our recommendations here.

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