Google Wifi router, port forwarding, you have no devices, privacy

Had an Asus router die today, so in a pinch I went out and bought a Google WiFi router after hearing “good things”.

I have a few wired devices and several wifi connected devices and I also have needs for port forwarding.

The first thing you will notice that is quite different from other routers is that to use this router:

  • There is no browser access like traditional routers
  • You need a google account
  • You need an app on your phone to manage the device (via google)

You also “optionally” can enable “cloud services” which raised my eyebrows as this feature collects all sorts of data on your network and uploads it to Google for your convenience. This mostly sounded like analytics, but I suspected otherwise and kept it off (you can read about it here, its just not clear on the box)

The device was easy to setup, I connected it to a switch for my wired devices, setup my SSID, easily changed the LAN subnet and all my devices were able to ping one another and access the internet. Great.

On to port fowarding…in order to do this, you need to go into the “app” and select a connected “device” to setup mapped ports…. great! Seems simple enough…

Oddly though, the google wifi router app, showed “no devices” connected…. odd… as I had 4 devices (including the phone I was using the app on) connected to the AP and pinging one another all on the local subnet.

In short, after being on the phone with google for 30 minutes, turns you you have to “opt-in” and enable the “cloud services” feature in order to see the “devices” on your network from within the app and be able to manage them. Unless you “opt in” to submitting this device information to Google, you cannot utilize any of the advanced features on the device.

This is the point where I ended the call, and returned the router to the store.

Attention to all the Google Wifi router owners out there: who knows what Google is sniffing on your network… analytics, mac addresses, device inference today etc…. whats going to be collected, throttled or accessed tomorrow? Who knows and I don’t care to find out nor predict where this kind of centralized router control for the masses could go.

Your home router is essentially the digital front door to your home.

No thanks.

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