Google Fi is getting a nice security and privacy boost today, as the rollout of end-to-end encryption for Google’s mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) officially begins. The search giant announced the new initiative in late October, but at the time only said that it would be bringing end-to-end encryption to Android users in the coming weeks. Today, Google finally turned the key, revealing on Twitter it was now automatically securing all Fi calls on Android devices with end-to-end encryption.
End-to-end encryption means that your phone calls on Google Fi will be secure and private from the moment they leave your smartphone to the time that they arrive at the other end. Best of all, there’s nothing you need to do to turn it on — if you’re a Google Fi user on an Android device, it just works automatically in the background. Google Fi will let you know right away when your calls are eligible for end-to-end encryption with a unique ringing tone as soon you place the call. Once the other party answers, you should both see a lock symbol to confirm end-to-end encryption is in place.
Your conversations, your business. 🔒
Starting today, calls between Android phones on Fi are automatically secured with end-to-end encryption. Conversations stay between you and the person you’re talking to, no additional action required.
Learn more → https://t.co/HuhJqSPgH0 pic.twitter.com/R4uwi4KA5J
— Google Fi (@googlefi) November 10, 2021
End-to-end encryption is fairly common among messaging apps, but it’s less common among voice services. Although some mobile calling apps like WhatsApp also offer end-to-end encryption, it’s still not used widely.
More significantly, however, Google Fi is one of the first MVNOs to offer it for voice calls, although it remains a bit limited at this stage. For one thing, the initial rollout is only available for one-on-one calls where both parties are using Android devices. This means it won’t kick in on calls made to Google Fi subscribers on iPhone, and it can’t be used for conference calls either. It also excludes calls to voicemail and, oddly enough, calls made with the Messages by Google app. On the upside, though, end-to-end encryption works over both Wi-Fi and cellular connections with at least LTE speeds.
Since Google Fi can be used to call any phone number, most of your calls probably won’t benefit from end-to-end encryption, but it’s still a big step in the right direction. Google hasn’t said exactly when end-to-end encryption will be coming to its iPhone subscribers, but it’s safe to say it’s working on it.