Google is getting into the VPN game with its own service, but rather than sell it as a standalone product, it’s part of Google One.
One is primarily about cloud storage, but has a few other benefits including 10% off products in the Google Store. Plus, you can share your subscription with up to five other people.
The company says that it is beginning by making VPN by Google One – the official name for the service – available to Android users in the US but that it will eventually bring the service to iOS, Windows and macOS as well.
One subscriptions start at £15.99/$19.99 per year for 100GB of storage, which makes Google’s VPN cheaper than most rivals and – obviously – offers cloud storage as well. Look at it from the perspective of those already paying for Google One and they’re getting a VPN service for free.
Is Google’s VPN any good?
On paper, yes. The company says it’s using a proprietary encryption protocol as well as implementing separate processes for authenticating users and the actual usage of the VPN service.
The former means that speeds are good (Google is claiming over 300Mbps in certain scenarios) and the latter that a common weakness in some VPN services which can allow a user’s identity to be tied to their activity is removed.
Google is also making the code for the VPN open source (the part that runs on the user’s service) and will soon do the same for the server-side user authentication. This is reassuring as it means it can be scrutinised for any flaws or weaknesses.
Secondly, a third-party audit of the VPN is already underway. Assuming this comes back showing everything is ship shape, it should help people trust that it is indeed secure.
And that’s relevant because as with any VPN service, you need to completely trust it with your internet traffic. No doubt there are some who don’t trust Google to keep your data private when it’s well known that the company uses your data as a form of payment for using all its services for free.
Of course, if you’re paying for Google One, it’s not free and this is exactly why Google is taking all these steps to reassure everyone that its VPN service will do what it’s supposed to.
And like any good VPN service it doesn't log anything except what it calls "minimum logging ... to ensure quality of service".
As of yet, there aren’t many details about using the service itself beyond an ‘on/off’ toggle that you’ll find in the Google One app.
Even in Google’s white paper there’s no mention of whether you can pick which server you want to connect to, whether it will unblock streaming services and if there are security features such as a kill switch.
All we know is that the service is being positioned as a privacy and security tool (just like the VPN services bundled with antivirus software) and that the company is open to using Wireguard when it’s natively supported by Android and other operating systems, along with the fact that it plans to develop the service into more of a security tool for internet threats.
There’s no word on when VPN by Google One will roll out in the UK and other countries, but you can be sure it will at some point.