Monday, December 6, 2021

Google Fi calls between Android subscribers will soon be end-to-end encrypted

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Google-owned mobile service Google Fi is rolling out end-to-end encrypted phone calls. All one-to-one calls between Android phones on the MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) will be end-to-end encrypted, the company announced Thursday. The rollout will begin “in the coming weeks,” though we don’t have an exact time frame. Google doesn’t say when this feature will come to iPhone users, though it does suggest that iOS devices will gain support in the future.

Google says calls between two Android devices on the Fi network will be secured using end-to-end encryption by default. Unfortunately, encryption is not supported for calls between Android and iPhone devices or between iPhone devices. The encryption feature is included for supported devices at no additional charge on all plans.

According to Google, how end-to-end encryption works for Google Fi is that the keys to the encryption are created by each device and exchanged with each other before the call starts. The calls are placed using Google’s services but it cannot be decoded by Google themselves or anyone else, save for the intended recipients of the call.

The key used for decrypting the calls are then deleted once the call comes to an end. Before you get too excited, there are some caveats to this. For starters, this only works on 1:1 calls, and both parties will have to use Google Fi and both devices need to be Android. This means that an iPhone user on Google Fi won’t be able to take advantage of this security feature.

Encryption during calls works alongside the integrated VPN FI provides and the spam blocking feature to prevent unwanted calls from coming through. Users will see audio and visual cues on calls supporting encryption, showing the calls are protected with end-to-end encryption. Users will hear a unique ringing tone when placing an eligible call, and there will be a lock symbol on the screen just before the call is connected.

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Astitva Patle
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