So Google finally launched their wireless service. In bloody San Francisco. So what's wrong with the twin cities?
Ok, so that's no surprise. This is the interesting part -- Google Secure Access.
There's a deep problem with current wireless networks. The transmission between a wireless client and wireless access point is only encrypted (can't be read) when the access point handles authentication and security. Problem is there's all kinds of ways to do the encryption and no easy way to provide useful passwords to everyone using an access point -- whether across a city or in a cafe.
So the authentication/encryption has to move from the access point to a central service. Keep the access point stupid and simple. That's what Google is doing. I hope they're using a VPN standard and that it will work with non-Windows machines (Google has a disturbing tendency to only support Windows).
Google secure access, combined with Gmail, is turning Google into a vast identity management service. Next up is providing backup service and Google's PayPal annihilator.
There's no way Google won't be taking out PayPal. eBay must be in panic mode now. I like Google and despise Microsoft, but I hope Microsoft isn't completely zombied by their claustrophobic bureaucracy. We will need a counterbalance to Google someday soon.
Update: Apparently they're using a standard VPN solution that works on the Mac, though it's not flawless.