Let me start off by saying this is not a review of the Google Pixel, rather this is an examination of a huge flaw that the Pixel has that I have yet to see anyone looking at, and it isn’t an obscure thing to be using either. This also reminded me of this problem when Google released an update to Google Voice.
My choice of cell phone has always been a little peculiar ever since my Nokia bar phone in the early 2000’s. I have had the N-Gage, HP PDA Phone (Can’t remember what it was), HTC Touch, Palm Pre, Motorola Droid, Motorola Droid Turbo, Nokia Lumia, Flip Phone, Asus Zenphone, and now the Google Pixel.
As you can see I have quite the ride. I’ve had different styles, different companies, and different OSs. I have also switched cell carriers with almost each phone, I’ve pretty much have had all major carriers and some smaller ones. Everything from the big V to Ting, and now I am on Google Fi.
Now I can finally say that I think I have found a phone and service that meets my needs. I’m not a Google fan boy by any stretch of the imagination, but I do like my tech to be the same company. If I get an ASUS Motherboard for my PC, I try to get all ASUS parts, just a habit I formed over the years, so I’m not against using the Pixel on Verizon or Sprint’s network. What Google offers just fits my needs better.
So that being said I really love the phone. I know it was a premium price for what some people call not so premium phone, but I was sick and tired of getting budget phones and wanted to see what a flagship could do. At the time Samsung was having their problem, Windows hadn’t released any information about the Surface Phone (if that’s even a thing), and Apple was out of the question. So the only other one that I wanted to consider was the Pixel. I wanted a phone that was close to the OS, so a Microsoft/Windows or Google/Android because presumably they would get the most support.
I have had great experiences with my phone. The camera is outstanding, it just ‘works’. No more fussing around with settings and options, the apps just do what I expect them to do. The best thing, and the reason I chose the phone/service, is the ability to switch from the best cellular data or WIFI signal. So if I’m near a Comcast or Google Hotspot it will switch over to that while on a call and use that data for anything I have going on in the background that needs data. So at home I can use my WIFI for calling, texting, and everything on my phone. My last provider was riding on the Sprint network and for whatever reason could not get reception to my house. I would miss calls and texts all the time, so I was relieved when Google Fi actually worked.
It works because of the magic of VOIP, or Voice Over IP. This is a great thing because it allows my phone to switch on a dime, and allows me to make/receive calls as long as I have data. I no longer need a cell signal. This is my understanding and if anyone knows different correct below in the comments!
So now we get to the point I wanted to make for this article. VOIP SUCKS!! Not because of any of the reasons I mentioned before, but because of a little thing called Two Factor Authentication. If you’ve ever had to answer security questions, open an email to verify something, or get a text and type that number in somewhere that is Two Factor Authentication. It just makes things more secure so people who know your username and password also need something else. That thing is something you know (What is your favorite ice cream), something you have(Cell phone text/email), or something you are(biometrics like an eye scan). So most sites nowadays have this sort of thing in place, and most use your cell to give you a text. Turns out, and this is starting to become a real pain in the ass, that if you have a VOIP number these don’t work and companies cannot/will not send texts to them. Here are some examples I have tried:
- Steam Guard
- Microsoft Accounts (most of them like Xbox Live, Office, etc)
- Mint Verify (A financial app)
- Calls fro Amazon Web Services
- YouTube (Yes I know they are owned by the same folks….)
- Credit Karma
These are just some I had written down, but I am sure there are loads of examples out there. The one that bothered me the most was of course the YouTube one. There own service will not allow texts to their own numbers….
The reason I was give is that VOIP is not secure enough, but Google says their numbers are secure. So I was given this back and forth from either side of the argument so I have come to the conclusion that I can no longer have Google Fi. So I decided to go back to Google Voice, which recently got an update. Since I have a ported Google Voice number I would assume it could work. Well I assumed wrong. Obviously these are also VOIP numbers, but surprisingly enough Google Voice does not work with Google Fi on a Google Pixel….. I also cannot use the Web app, nor the Android app. I would have to get a completely different number/account which is not what I want to do.
Now I know there is something behind the scenes that I am missing, but if I want to use Voice over the Fi network on a Pixel I would assume that is what they would want, right? Well no. I think it is because Voice and Hangouts don’t play well together. So why can’t I do it, I have no idea, but I think I want to try to find out. One thing that is very weird is that I used my wife’s phone the other day to try to see if that worked and it did. So there may be something about my number originating from Google Voice and hers being just a Project Fi number. I’ll do some research and follow up.
If you made it this far, congrats! Just another opinion, or complaint, about something in the tech world.
As always like, share, and comment. Helps out if you can, but I understand if you don’t 🙂