Google Wifi is Google’s latest foray into hardware. It replaces the company’s old OnHub device, and has the potential to revolutionize home Wi-Fi.
Its combination of cutting-edge technology and stylish design means it’s able to tackle all the problems you normally associate with wireless routers. If you’re struggling with home Wi-Fi, then read on because this may be the solution you’ve been waiting for.
Google Wifi and Mesh Networks
Google Wifi taps into the trend of mesh networking, also seen in products from the likes of Eero and Orbi. It’s different than a normal network where you get a direct connection between point A and point B — your phone to your router, for instance.
A mesh network contains a “mesh” of interconnected devices (or “nodes”) that are capable of relaying data back and forth to destinations. Instead of that singular connection, you instead connect to the nearest node in the mesh and the data is always transmitted via the shortest, fastest, or most efficient route through the mesh.
In the case of a Google Wifi network, it means you get a main router plus additional puck-like devices that act as wireless access points around your home. They give you much better coverage (both in terms of range and performance) and are seen as a single network: you only need to enter the password once to connect to any node on the network.
You can achieve similar results using a Wi-Fi extender, but it’s more complicated to set up and you often have to connect to each router separately.
Google Wifi Gives You Better Coverage
The immediate benefit of Google Wifi is that it can give you better wireless coverage throughout your home.
Google Wifi is available in two options. The single unit has a range of 1,500 feet and is fine for an apartment. The three-pack covers 4,500 feet and is ideal if you need your Wi-Fi coverage to extend upstairs or out into the yard. You can add even more range if you live in a particularly large house.
With the three-pack, you’re able to position each Wi-Fi point around your home to achieve maximum coverage: one at the front of the house, one at the back, and one upstairs, for example. The Wifi app will even help with optimal positioning to ensure you have no dead zones (areas where there’s no signal at all).
And because a mesh network treats every Wi-Fi point as part of the same network, you only need one ID and password for the whole house.
Google Wifi Gives You Faster Speeds
Setting up a normal Wi-Fi router is a fine art. The further a signal has to travel, and the more physical obstacles (such as walls) it has to pass through, the weaker the signal becomes. This is not an issue on mesh networks where you have multiple Wi-Fi points.
With a Google Wifi setup, your devices always connect to the nearest node. As you move around the house, your devices seamlessly disconnect from one and reconnect to another. As a result, you always have the fastest and most stable connection available, which is rarely true with a single router setup.
That’s not to say that there’s no speed loss when you connect several nodes together. You just won’t notice the effect because each node is still faster than your internet connection (unless you have a very fast connection in excess of 250 Mbps).
Google Wifi Is Simple to Set Up
Mesh networking sounds complicated, but in the case of Google Wifi it could hardly be simpler.
The system is effectively plug and play. After setting up the first Wi-Fi point, the others auto-detect and auto-connect to the network. You don’t need to configure individual routers like you do when you use a Wi-Fi extender.
Actual usage of Google Wifi is easy as well. Where you’d normally have to delve into a router’s settings to choose the best channel and band, each point on the Google Wifi network does this automatically. They are constantly scanning and switching channels and bands to give you the fastest, most interference-free connection.
Google Wifi Is Controlled by App
To use Google Wifi, you need to have the mobile app installed on your iPhone or Android phone. As well as helping you to get set up and add other Wi-Fi points, the app gives you full control over your network:
- Give bandwidth priority to specific devices to get the best speeds when you need them, such as when watching Netflix in 4K on your TV.
- See what devices are connected to your network and how much bandwidth they’re using.
- Set up a guest password for your friends.
- Connect and control select smart home devices.
- Control the internet usage of kids by pausing access on their devices.
Google Wifi Works With Smart Home Gear
Speaking of smart home integration, anyone on your Google Wifi network will be able to control your Philips Hue lights. Given time, a far greater range of internet of Things devices will be supported as Google Wifi becomes the preferred hub for your smart home.
IFTTT also works with Google Wifi. This brings support to devices like Nest Thermostats and the Amazon Echo, along with countless other recipes that give you control over your network.
Google Wifi Even Looks Great
It may seem trivial, but the attractive design of Google Wifi serves as another benefit. Most routers are ugly boxes with flashing lights and antennas poking out in various directions — they’re just asking to be tucked away in a corner or hidden behind a plant pot, which can actually hinder your Wi-Fi speeds.
The clean, understated puck-style design of the Google Wifi units means they can happily be hidden in plain sight on shelves, desks, or even kitchen worktops. You won’t even know they’re there. It’ll free you up to position them wherever they perform best.
The Pros and Cons of Google Wifi
Naturally there are a few downsides you need to be aware of as well:
- You need an Android or an iPhone to use it.
- You must have, and be connected to, a Google account. Not everyone will be okay with that.
- Google Wifi does collect some data about your usage of the product, but this does not include the websites you visit or the content of any traffic.
- It is more expensive than most routers and methods of speeding up your Wi-Fi network.
- It doesn’t give you the most advanced features available on other routers.
But in pretty much every other respect, it’s a big leap forward. Google Wifi hits the sweet spot between power and ease of use. It’s probably better than the router you’re currently using and is accessible enough for anyone who isn’t confident about setting up their tech.
Have you got Google Wifi, or are you planning to get it? Share your thoughts on the service in the comments.