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Project Fi, Hangouts and the New Wireless Order

Google's wireless service Project Fi launched in 2015. It lets your phone switch automatically between cellular networks and wi-fi when making a call. That functionality "that allows phones and tablets more easily move between disparate networks" is apparently the wave of the future, with Apple and Microsoft exploring similar offerings.

Part of the secret sauce behind Project Fi is Google Hangouts. Wired spoke to Nick Fox, Google's VP for Communications Products about how that works:

With a Hangout, you can connect to several people simultaneously over the ‘net, chatting via video and, of course, audio. When you place a call over Wi-Fi via Project Fi, Google sets it up as a Hangout—only without the video. If you leave Wi-Fi, the Hangout keeps running, and then, because Hangout can juggle multiple connections, your phone can establish a new link over a cellular network.

It’s kinda like you’re two people dialing into the same Hangout. “The Hangout doesn’t necessarily need to know that you have left Wi-Fi,” Fox says. “That’s what’s nice about a Hangout that can have multiple participants.” When you move from Wi-Fi to cellular, you can hear the change as it happens, largely because call quality is better on Wi-Fi due to its greater network bandwidth.

Because Hangouts uses open-source WebRTC technology, others may be able to duplicate Project Fi's functionality.

So what are Google's plans?

[Fox] also insists that Google also has no intention of becoming a “large scale” carrier and only wants to push the broader market forward. This is probably true. But it’s worth remembering that Google said the same thing about Google Fiber, its ultra-highspeed wireline Internet service, and it’s now a fairly big player in that game. The company will do whatever it takes to move markets. And this one needs moving. Again.

Read more in Cade Metz's article at +WIRED.:
http://www.wired.com/2016/05/google-changing-way-phones-use-wireless/
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Eric Taylor's profile photoPeggy K's profile photoBob Jeselnik's profile photo
5 comments
 
That was a very good article about what Fi is & love the brief & non technical way Hangouts (my favorite app) was explained.
 
Excellent info update. But still, how do you initiate outgoing WiFi calls reliably. I get incoming all the time on home WiFi

Peggy K
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+Bob Jeselnik it seems like the default to make calls is to use the mobile connection, so it only seems to make calls via wifi by default if there is no mobile connection at all.
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