Google has a wireless service coming . We don’t know when, or who can get in on it, but thanks to a new leak we now know a lot more of the (possible) details. And some of these (potential) features sound (hopefully) pretty great.
The new info comes by way of an app file that Android Police dug up. Inside this app file—which looks pretty legit even if it’s not proven to be—are a whole bunch of lines of code that hint at some really neat features, some of which would be novel, and others of which that would just be great. Also it’s apparently called Project Fi. That could just be a code name, but I’m gonna use it from here on out.
It looks like Project Fi could take a page from the playbook of MVNO’s (alternative carriers who use other carriers’ networks) like Ting and Zact (RIP) and only charge you for what you use. We already knew that Project Fi was probably going to rely heavily on wifi to keep data costs down—shoutout to Republic Wireless —but code in the app suggests that uses won’t necessarily need a “plan” but can instead pay by the GB for data. Also it seems US-to-US calls are free, and international ones are charged by the minute.
Much like Google Voice (which is melting into Hangouts ), it seems Project Fi will let you have multiple phones with the same number. But even better, code in the app suggests users could switch which one acts as the primary just by tweaking settings instead of switching SIMs. Granted “too many phones” is geeenerally a tech blogger problem, but for anyone who has a beater phone they like to take out for wild nights on the town, this could sure be handy.
Earlier leaks have suggested that T-Mobile and Sprint (the two smallest and scrappiest carriers in the US right now) would be the two launch partners for Google’s wireless service, and that users would auto-switch between them for their data. The Android Police apk seems to confirm, and lists both carriers in its code, but only those two. You wouldn’t really expect Verizon to play along with this, would you?
This one isn’t in Android Police’s found apk, but previous rumors have suggested that on Project Fi, going overseas might not cost you any extra money. Google’s been talking to at least one carrier in the UK about setting up a deal so that Project Fi’s network of partner carriers won’t just be stateside.
Does some of this sound an awful lot like Google Voice? Yeah! It looks like Project Fi isn’t actually an extension of Google Voice—the code shows accounts remaining separate—but it does look like you’ll be able to easily port your hallowed Google Voice number over easily, and help it escape from the zombified husk of that once super-promising service .
This all sounds great but caveats abound. For one, it’s not clear when this whole thing will launch. Google has confirmed the plans, but it could still be a long ways out. Maybe as early as this summer’s Google I/O but who knows. That, and it’s going to be very limited at launch (and maybe forever). Google has said the plan is for this to be small, and rumors hint that it may be restricted to users of the Nexus 6 and beyond . Even if this is great, you might not get in.
Still, Google’s wireless service is looking better and better. Sure, some of its best ideas aren’t new but instead borrowed from smaller, scrappier MVNOs that already exist, but in Google’s hands these features could become way more well-known and common, even if you personal can’t use Google’s pet service. Here’s to hoping.