Google has officially announced that its Project Fi will be rebranded to ‘Google Fi’. They have also expanded Fi’s support to multiple phones like Samsung, Moto, LG, iPhone and OnePlus. The service for iPhone will be in beta for the time being. Even though Google admits that the process for iPhone will require “a few extra steps to get set up”, there will be a new Google Fi iOS app to help customers get comfortable with the process.
What is Google Fi?
Google Fi is a “mobile virtual network operator” and is recognized for its unique approach compared to most other network carriers. It does not operate on its own network, but piggybacks on those of T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular, handing a customer’s phone to whichever offers the strongest connection at any given time. Fi also offers simplified data plans, easy international use, and a slew of other perks. It has no long-term contracts- a customer has to pay on a month to month basis. The data costs the same internationally as it does at home, in most countries. There’s just a single payment “plan,” which starts at $20 for access to a line, plus an additional $10 for every gigabyte consumed. If a user has only one line and uses more than 6GB, they only pay a maximum of $80 for that month.
The Catch with Fi for iPhones
Fi operates as a virtual network operator, and only a few phones including Google Pixels and those that are explicitly “designed for Fi” will be able to dynamically switch between those carriers’ networks. Android phones and iPhones that are that aren’t built specifically for Google Fi will miss out on this functionality.
In addition, since the iPhone will receive support in beta, there can be a less-than-smooth experience for customers who choose to use Fi on their iPhones. Important secondary features like visual voicemail, calls and texts over Wi-Fi, automated spam detection, and international tethering will be left out because of the beta support.
The Fi website cautions that iPhone users will have to do a bit of tweaking to get their texting feature to work properly. The iMessage service will function “out of the box,” APN settings will need to be modified to enable MMS.
That being said, the real catch with Google Fi has always been its simplicity and affordability, both of which will remain irrespective of the device a customer chooses to use. Google Fi still has some catching up to do with other carriers when it comes to features like including support for the RCS Universal Profile for texting and number sharing for things like LTE smartwatches. This announcement of extending Fi’s support for multiple devices does signal Google’s efforts to broaden its user base and boost device support.
Head over to Google’s official Blog for more information on this announcement.
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