Category: Project Fi

Google Hangouts Dropping SMS Support – But Not for Project Fi Users

Google has sent notifications out to G Suite customers that in starting next week, a warning will show up in Google Hangouts that SMS will no longer be supported.  That support will end on May 22nd.  The notification and change is part of the overall strategy of Google to move their G Suite customers to the new Google Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat while leveraging Android Messages for SMS on Android devices.  For consumers, the focus is on Google Allo and Duo to meet these communications needs.

For those readers who are on Project Fi (I am one of them) or using Google Voice, this change does not impact you.  This change only impacts G Suite customers who are using carrier numbers to send and receive SMS messages.  This fits along with what Google told me earlier this month at the Google Next Cloud event in San Francisco.

Project Fi App Update Gives Management on Group Plans

The Project Fi app for Android and Fi members has an update rolling out that allows some management features of Group Plans.  Referred to as the “M” update, users who upgrade and have group plans enabled will be able to manage some elements of that plan including being able to limit a users data allocation.  However, in order to create a group plan, add or delete a member of the plan, you will still need to go through the Fi website.

Group Plans have been in Fi for a few months now and had been one of the most requested features of the MVNO service from Google.  Like other carriers, group plans allow you to share a pool of data with up to 5 members.  It is great for families or even small businesses.

Project Fi Referral Plan Extended Indefinitely

Last month I wrote about a referral program that Project Fi had going on last month.  Basically the way it worked is that if you used a referral link from a Project Fi customer (like mine for example), you would get a $20 kick back on your bill have you have been active for 30 days.  In return, I get the same kick back after you have been active for 30 days.  It was a win-win and it was a great for you to try Fi with a little bit less risk.

And while I’m at it, thank you Alan, Rodger and Stef for using my referral link last month!  😀

Now the referral program has been extended indefinitely.  If you want to try out Fi, you can use a referral link from any current Fi customer and sign up.  After you have been with the service for 30 days, you too will get a referral link so you can share the love too.

The Nextbit Robin and Project Fi – Yes, You Can Make it Work

One of the most common questions I receive about Google’s Project Fi is if it will work with phones other than the Google Pixel and Nexus phone lineup.  The short answer to this question is yes.  However, there are things that you have to consider in the process and you will have to have, at some point, a compatible Pixel or Nexus phone to activate your Fi SIM.  So really the answer is yes, but with a lot of hurdles to jump.

In this How To, I will go over the steps to get a non-Google phone to work with Project Fi including what you need to do to set it up, how to configure SMS/MMS and the limitations you will have with using Fi on a non-Google phone.  For this article, I’m using a Nextbit Robin but the reality is that the steps outlined here should work with any phone.

A couple of warnings before I get started.  First, there is no support provided getting your non-Google phone working with Project Fi.  They clearly advertise it as working with their devices only as the primary SIM card (you can get the data-only card working with some iPad models and other tablets).  Second, one of the big advantages of Fi is the ability to seamlessly switch between Sprint, T-Mobile and US Cellular.  In a non-Google phone, you will only get T-Mobile service.  If T-Mobile is not great in your area, keep that in mind.

Project Fi – Now is a Great Time To Try

For over a year now I have been a Project Fi subscriber and frankly, I’ve never looked back.  After being on AT&T for well over a decade, I looked at Fi with a bit of skepticism when I joined in October 2015, so much so that I didn’t shut down my AT&T account until December.  But the double paying, I felt, would allow me to jump ship quickly, taking my then Nexus 6 with me.  It never happened and, in fact, never crossed my mind.  Google’s MVNO is solid, even in the upper elevations of Colorado where I live.  I’ve traveled all over the United States in the last year and not once have I had an issue with Fi completing calls or giving me good data throughput.  I’ve recommended it countless times here and in person and now there is a chance for you to try Project Fi and save on your first bill.

Today Fi rolled out a referral program for those of us who are subscribers.  For everyone who subscribes, we both get $20 off our first bill (in your case) and next bill (in my case).  Sure it is a win-win for both of us but if you have been thinking about making the switch, now is a good time to try.  All you have to do is go to this link to sign up and try.

Unauthorized Google Pixel Resellers Banned by Google

Nearly 200 Google users have found themselves banned and suspended from Google after making a clear violation of their terms of service.  The users purchased a Google Pixel through Project Fi and then had those phones shipped to a 3rd party in New Hampshire.  Those phones were then resold and the profits split between the 3rd party company and the original buyer of the phone.  While it is perfectly legal for you to resell your phone, it is equally clear in the Project Fi and Google Store terms that you cannot do this or you will have your account suspended.  That is exactly what has happened and this is no small deal.  A suspended Google account means you can’t access anything associated with that account:  Gmail, Calendar, Google Photos, Google Docs, etc.  It is a complete shutdown.

At the time of this post, none of the accounts that have been suspended have been re-enabled.  While owners of these accounts can appeal to Google, it is a question if they will ever get back into those accounts.  So the question is this:  Is this too draconian by Google?

Project Fi App Now Shows Per App Data Usage

The Project Fi app for subscribers has received a nice behind the scenes update that most users will find quite helpful.  Now you can see which apps have consumed the most data in your current billing cycle.  The good news is that no new app download is required.  So long as you are running the most current version you will see this new information within the app.

Finally! Project Fi Adds Group Plans

It has taken a while but Google’s MVNO, Project Fi, has finally added group plans to the service.  Now you can add lines to a Fi user’s account for $15 per month and use a shared pool of data that will all be on one bill.  To this point, if multiple family members wanted to use Fi, each one had to sign up for their own account.  The good thing is that fundamentally, the service isn’t changing for this new option.  You can still add and remove members of the plan at any time without penalty and your data is still billed at $10 per Gigabit.

Wi-Fi Assistant Now Hitting Nexus Devices

A few weeks ago, Google announced that Wi-Fi Assistant would be coming to all Nexus phones over the course of the coming weeks.  That appears to have started happening.  Several Nexus owners are now seeing the option in their settings and are now able to take advantage of the data saving feature.   Wi-Fi Assistant to this point has been exclusive to Project Fi users which allows their devices to automatically connect to Google approved Wi-Fi hotspots securely and without any user intervention.  It is a huge benefit to Fi frankly as it saves on data plan usage.  It will connect your phone to Wi-Fi without you even knowing it.  Now all Nexus owners will benefit from the feature.  The good news is that it is all a back end change and there is no update required on your phone.

Project Fi Set to Improve International Data Usage Tracking

Project Fi subscribers are about to get some much needed improvements around international data usage tracking.  In a post in the Fi user forums, Community Manager Jordan posted that improved graphs and the ability to setup threshold warnings is coming to the service.

We’re improving the way you keep track of your international data usage with Project Fi. Currently, international data is not included in the threshold for triggering data usage alerts nor the data usage graph (under Account > Current Cycle). We’ll be making changes to both of these features to include international data usage to help you view and monitor more accurately. Note that international data is the same rate you’ve always paid, $10 per GB.

This is great news as now international users of the service will be able to track their data more discretely versus their domestic data usage.

Project Fi Update Brings Chat Support

A small but important update is currently rolling out for the Project Fi app.  The update brings the ability for users to chat with Project Fi support, not just an email or phone call from within the app.  Fi users have been able to chat with support but, to this point, it has only been through the Fi website.  This update gives you all three modes to contact the Fi team to get help or get questions answered.  As a Fi users, I’m glad to see this update as I there are times where having a chat session is faster than an email or phone call, especially if I’m on-the-go.

To access this new option, just open the Project Fi app, swipe over to the Support tab and tap on Chat.  Easy-peasy.

Wi-Fi Assistant Coming To All Nexus Phones

Great news and yet another reason to pick up a Nexus phone.  The Nexus team at Google has announced that Wi-Fi Assistant is coming to all Nexus phones in the coming weeks.  Wi-Fi Assistant to this point has been exclusive to Project Fi users which allows their devices to automatically connect to Google approved Wi-Fi hotspots securely and without any user intervention.  It is a huge benefit to Fi frankly as it saves on data plan usage.  It will connect your phone to Wi-Fi without you even knowing it.  Now all Nexus owners will benefit from the feature.