Good news if you’ve got a Nexus device and are looking to save on your mobile data: over the next few weeks, Google is making the Wi-Fi Assistant feature from its Project Fi wireless service available to all Nexus owners.
Wi-Fi Assistant had been exclusive to the experimental Project Fi wireless network Google launched last year and is considered one of the service's best features. It “automatically and securely” connects to over one million available open Wi-Fi hotspots whenever it detects one, saving users’ mobile data allowance.
To try and make the open Wi-Fi networks safer, Wi-Fi Assistant connects via a Google Virtual Private Network (VPN), which is why the “Network may be monitored” message appears when a connection is active. Google assures users that the company can’t record content, but it does monitor system data for abuse, to improve the feature, and to comply with local laws and regulations.
You can turn on Wi-Fi Assistant by going to the Android Settings app, hitting Google, tapping Networking, then toggling the Wi-Fi Assistant on/off switch. You can also disconnect from any networks you were automatically connected to by using the “forgot network” option in the Wi-Fi settings.
While a million “fast and reliable” Wi-Fi hotspots sounds like plenty, the service is limited to users in the US, UK, Canada, Mexico, and Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and their associated territories).
The Wi-Fi Assistant will be available on Nexus devices running Lollipop 5.1 or higher, which includes the Nexus 4, 5, 6, 5x, and 6P smartphones, as well as the Nexus 7, 9, and 10 tablets.