Google's Nest takeover could put the squeeze on Alexa and other smart home devices

Google's Nest takeover could put the squeeze on Alexa and other smart home devices


The Amazon Echo and the Nest Learning Thermostat are two of the biggest hit products of the smart home. They've also worked together for years. You can ask Alexa, the voice assistant built into the Echo smart speaker, to change the temperature on your Nest thermostat. After Google I/O, this important smart home connection looks in danger of being cut.

Google and Nest have been technically part of the same team since last year, but last week at Google I/O, Nest and the Google smart home team joined into a single brand called Google Nest. In addition to a new product -- the Nest Hub Max -- and a few price cuts, the joined brand also means Google will encourage current Nest customers to merge their previously siloed Nest accounts with Google.

You'll still be able to keep your Nest account, but it will be relegated to a "maintenance mode" and it will only receive security updates. New features will all be designated for Google accounts. If you already center your home around Google's smart home products -- such as the Google Home smart speaker -- this shift isn't likely to have a big effect on you. In fact, more functionality is likely to be rolled into the Google Home app to help encourage customers to move away from the separate Nest app.

If you primarily use Nest products and automated recipes involving third-party gadgets, your current smart home set up could turn dumb as soon as Aug. 31, 2019. On that date, Google is shutting down the Works with Nest program, which allowed third-party developers, including Amazon, to control Nest gadgets.

Developers can join the Works with Google Assistant program instead, and many of the major brands that work with Nest already work with Google, but the two programs have a few fundamental differences that could sever the connections you have set up at home.

One-way commands

Works with Nest allowed third-party gadgets to both give and receive info from Nest products like the Nest Learning Thermostat. Works with Google Assistant debuted to replace Works with Nest, but Google Assistant has thus far only given the commands to third-party products, not the other way around.

Abode is a good example of a smart home company that currently works with both systems. Abode makes one of our favorite DIY security systems. Different Abode kits include a variety of sensors, sirens, cameras, and even gadgets like switches, lights and dimmers. Read more




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