How To: Turn on Google Pixel's Wi-Fi Assistant to Get Secure Access on Open Networks

Turn on Google Pixel's Wi-Fi Assistant to Get Secure Access on Open Networks

How to Turn on Google Pixel's Wi-Fi Assistant to Get Secure Access on Open Networks

The Pixel and Pixel XL come with an awesome data-saving feature called Wi-Fi Assistant that automatically connects to open internet hotspots, then creates a secure VPN on your device to keep your data safe.

When you're connected to a Wi-Fi network, internet speeds are generally faster, and you aren't using costly mobile data—and with the Pixel's Wi-Fi Assistant on, all of your internet activity is funneled through a firewall of sorts, making it about as secure as it gets.

But for some reason, the Wi-Fi Assistant feature is not enabled by default on Google's new flagships, which means you'll have to turn it on manually if you want to start saving data and getting faster internet speeds on public, no-password hotspots without risking your privacy.

Note for Verizon Users

The Verizon Wireless versions of the Google Pixel and Pixel XL shipped with Wi-Fi Assistant disabled, but an update is rolling out to fix this issue right now. So if you have a Verizon Pixel and don't see the options depicted below, try rebooting your phone to get the latest firmware installed (it should only take a few seconds thanks to the Pixel's new "seamless updates" feature).

Alternatively, you can see if there are any available updates to the Google Connectivity Services app, which can be found on the Play Store at this link.

If neither of these fixes work, you'll just have to give it some time. Check back every few days, and eventually, you should see the Wi-Fi Assistant options shown below.

Enabling Wi-Fi Assistant

First up, head to your phone's main Settings menu, then tap the Wi-Fi entry. From here, touch the small gear icon near the top-right corner.

Next, enable the "Use open Wi-Fi automatically" option, then press "Got It" on the popup. From now on, your device will automatically connect to open Wi-Fi hotspots, and when this happens, you'll see a small key icon with the Google "G" logo in your status bar.

Wi-Fi Assistant will only connect to open networks if Google has verified that they are reliable and have fast internet speeds. When this happens, your internet traffic will be routed through a secure on-device VPN, which means that you'll get better speeds and fewer data overages, all while using a safe internet connection.

Cover photo and screenshots by Dallas Thomas/Gadget Hacks

4 Comments

Is this not available on Verizon? I don't see the "Use open Wifi automatically" option in the configure Wifi settings on my Pixel. I have "Switch to cellular data automatically" option instead.

Sorry about that, I updated the article with some tips on that front. Basically, the Verizon Pixels shipped with Wi-Fi Assistant disabled, but that wasn't intentional. Verizon's in the process of fixing it right now, so you should get an update (not sure if it's a firmware update or a backend app update) that enables Wi-Fi Assistant soon.

My iphone gave up the ghost and I need to go with a 7 or try the pixel. I was able to toggle to get wifi from my iphone to my mac - -very helpful when traveling outside of my internet zone. Does the Pixel offer the same? May I toggle to get wifi on my mac thru the pixel?

Yep! They call that feature a "Wi-Fi hotspot," and it works great on my Pixel XL.

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