It’s been a long time coming, but Google is upgrading its Project Fi cellular service with a new name, more features, and compatibility with a lot more phones. Even the iPhone is along for the ride now.
The first big change here is the name—no longer considered a project, that part of the name has been dropped and replaced with “Google,” so the service will be called Google Fi moving forward. Makes sense.
The biggest change, however, is phone compatibility. Since its inception, Fi has only been compatible with specific phones, all of which ran Android. The number of compatible phones has grown over the years but always remained very small in comparison to the number of available phones on the market. That changes today, with Fi now open to “the majority” of phones—including iPhone.
If you’re familiar with Fi, you know that it uses multiple networks and Wi-Fi as part of its plan. That raises some questions about how exactly it will work on Apple devices because they simply don’t offer the same flexibility that Android devices do when it comes to network hopping and always-on VPN. Unfortunately, right now it’s not entirely clear how this will work with the iPhone—but the service is still in beta and there are some drawbacks. Google did a good job of highlighting these potential issues on its Fi compatibility page:
That said, Google mentions in the announcement post that “a few extra steps” are required to get set up on with Fi on an iPhone, but there’s a companion app to help with that. To get the full Fi experience, you’ll still need a Fi-specific phone (which can be purchased directly through Fi). Without having used the service on a non-Fi phone to confirm, that suggests Fi won’t be all that different from other MVNO providers like Cricket Wireless or Metro.
Finally, Google is giving away some goodies to anyone who buys a phone from Fi (with service). You can get back all the money you spend on a new phone—dollar for dollar—in travel vouchers, which you can use for flights, Airbnb locations, or hotels. If you don’t buy a new phone and buy a Fi plan for your current handset, you’ll get $200 of Fi service credit if you sign up today. That’s pretty solid.