Google’s MVNO mobile service, Google Fi, has an amazing new feature: Encrypted phone calls. Encrypted voice chats via messaging apps have been around for some time, but this is the first time we’ve seen a company hijack the regular phone system to make end-to-end encrypted calls. Open the phone app, dial a number, and your call can be encrypted.
End-to-end encryption is not a phone standard, so both ends of a call will need to be rooted in the Google Fi ecosystem for the feature to work. Google’s description states that “Calls between two Android phones over Fi will be secured by end-to-end encryption by default.” google fi working on it iPhone too, but since Google will have to use Apple’s default phone app, they can’t add encryption.
For encrypted Fi-to-Fi calls, Google will display a new “Encrypted by Google Fi” message in users’ phone apps, along with a lock code everywhere. The company says there will also be “unique audio cues”.
Google doesn’t explain how the encryption works, but the feature is supposed to work over Wi-Fi or VoLTE (Voice over LTE) calls. This can be difficult to do on traditional voice networks, but if you run the voice call over data and control each client application, wrapping the entire session in encryption becomes much easier. I wonder if encrypted calls will be charged as data usage calculated on Fi instead of unlimited calling minutes.
Google says the feature will be rolling out to Android devices “in the coming weeks”.
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