At Google I/O last week, Google made a number of announcements around the Nest family of products. Nest, as an independent unit within Google, has been completely subsumed. There are no more Nest-branded products — everything is Google Nest.
It’s not exactly surprising that Google would choose to extend its own brand across Nest products. But the company is doing it by breaking its previous compatibility and branding programs, ensuring that (once again) anyone who invested in a smart home built around a Nest thermostat now faces a fundamentally uncertain future.
The Works With Nest certification program will be shut down on August 31, 2019. Products that were formerly certified to work with Nest, including those by Lutron, SimpliSafe, IFTTT, Philips Hue, Logitech Harmony, August Home, and Wemo switches are all known to be impacted, though the degree of function loss can differ by product.
Instead of “Works with Nest,” Google will offer a “Works with Google Assistant” product that’s intended to replace it. It’s not hard to see what’s happening here. Google threw existing Nest customers under the bus, with no concern for the smart home configurations it was breaking, because now it can force partner companies to directly interface with its own assistant product. According to the Verge, Lutron has emailed customers, telling them “the ability to automate lighting functions based on the Nest’s home and away status, person alerts from Nest cameras, or smoke or carbon monoxide detection from a Nest Protect will be affected by the change. It will also remove the ability to control the Nest thermostat from within the Lutron smartphone app.”
When Google bought Nest, it promised that it would keep Nest data and Google data in separate data silos. That promise is gone as well. While existing Nest users will be able to keep Nest accounts, Google now “strongly recommends” you transition to a Google account, and warns that the new features it intends to introduce with the service will only be available on Google Accounts. Performing that migration means giving Google all of the Nest data you once preferred to keep private.
The reactions to these changes have not been positive. In addition to wrecking the existing smart home ecosystems that users have created for themselves, Google is breaking its previous agreement to keep Nest and Google data separate. Google Assistant may integrate well with thousands of products, but Works With Nest was a larger program and promised wider compatibility. It also offered more direct control and, not incidentally, allowed people who wanted to have certain smart home aspects without the always-on microphone the option to do so.
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