According to a an unofficial firmware image and the Android rumor mill, it looks as if we may soon have another phone carrier to choose from. Android Police chose to promote the rumor due to their own trustworthy sources giving it a thumbs up. A communications application known as Tycho, the same name as our moon’s gigantic crater or the Danish astronomer, was found in an unofficial update for the Nexus 6. The application makes reference to being able to transfer a phone number, be assigned a new number, and use WiFi to (eventually) make and receive calls and text messages. Additionally, the application references support for a new MWNO service provider called Project Fi.
What is an MVNO? It is essentially a company which pays other carriers to use their towers to sell their own branded cellular service (think Simple Mobile or Wal-Mart Family Mobile). In Project Fi’s case, the service will switch between T-Mobile and Sprint networks depending on which one has the best signal. This is intriguing because T-Mobile is a GSM carrier while Sprint uses CDMA technology. Choosing a certain carrier has often meant buying a phone specifically built for that carrier, but a growing number of new unlocked phones (iPhone 6 and Nexus 6 among them) have been shown to support both GSM and CDMA. Supporting both technologies may even be a prerequisite for taking advantage of the full abilities of Project Fi.
Within a few years, it is safe to assume that wireless service will become device agnostic. No more having to buy a new phone to move to a different carrier! It appears Project Fi will charge by the gigabyte and will allow you to share data between all your connected devices. But wait, there’s more! Calls and texts within the continental United States will be free! There seems to be a lot at play here. Not only could Google become your carrier, but it would also allow you to use all of your Android devices (and perhaps those running ChromeOS) as stand ins for your cell phone.
A device agnostic service would be a game changer. For example, for years I’ve been wanting a truly smart watch. The second I saw the Indiegogo campaign for the Neptune Hub I couldn’t give them my money fast enough. That said, to fully utilize its potential, I would need to be able to switch between devices at will.
I bike a lot and I want the ability to transfer my cellular profile from my phone to a SIMed up smartwatch (Such as a more rugged LG Urbane). That way, I can go on a ride without worrying that I’m going to destroy my smartphone. I took a tumble early last year coming down a steep descent and ended up cracking my new iPhone 5S despite a good ZAGG screen protector. Sure, I could have grabbed a cheapie Go Phone and added it as a host for my Google Voice number, but then I’d lose out on using GPS and data tracking apps I’ve come to rely upon. With Project Fi, this could be a thing of the past.
Is Project Fi the next generation of Google Voice? Would you consider switching from your provider? Let us know in the comments!