Things are changing at the search giant, Google with smart home devices now all consolidated under the name Google Nest.
What does this big reveal from the I/O 2019 keynote mean for the smart home division, though? More importantly, what does it means for you, the consumer?
Now the answer to the question you’ve been waiting for…
Will Google Be Removing Alexa Integration with Nest Products?
This announcement from Google I/O 2019 will see Nest formally wound down and the Works with Nest program disbanded by the end of August. While IFTTT functionality will cease and the claimed grounds of potential security flashpoints with third parties, how about Alexa?
The extent of the ripples being felt by what on the surface seems like a rebranding is astonishing so what’s the underlying reason for all this? Could it be privacy concerns from these eco-systems?
Is This Really About Privacy or Locking Down
Now, it’s common knowledge that smart devices can collect
plenty of information but what use is that data to a company and how sensitive
is it really?
Think about the Nest Learning Thermostat…
Is this really a device where user data is in any way open
While this is just one example of a benign product, it
nevertheless prompts the obvious question…
Is Google’s stated intention of eliminating weak spots from
third party links in the name of protecting user privacy really the core reason
for cutting out the competition?
Or is it just that, an attempt to raze opponents from the
playing field completely?
This is, admittedly, pure speculation and we’re not going to
attempt a definitive answer. All we’re doing here is suggesting that when
Google’s Rishi Chandra talks about the need for a single ecosystem with all
devices singing in harmony, that day could be closer on the horizon that the
current mishmash of set-ups might suggest.
What’s Happening at Nest?
On the Nest help
page, there’s a breakdown of what exactly is happening as the company
becomes Google Nest and there’s a summary of 3 core elements of this
- A single Google Account for device management
- A single third-party device ecosystem, Works with Google Assistant
- A single and adjusted set of privacy commitments
It’s telling that privacy is dropped in almost as an
afterthought. What appears far more prominent is the forced migration to Google
Accounts and the standalone functionality of Google Assistant.
And this brings us to the issue of Alexa with Google Nest
products. What’s going to happen there at the end of August?
What’s the Future For Alexa with Google Nest?
As we mentioned earlier this week, Works with Nest is pronounced dead, to be laid formally to rest on August 31, 2019. For anyone who bought into the Nest system to enjoy that seamless automation, this is bad news indeed. Nest products won’t suddenly stop working and the existing devices will still work with one another but how about that third-party integration?
Well, from Philips Hue to Logitech Harmony, Lutron to If This, Then That, casualties feature all the main players but how about Alexa? We’ll direct you here to the company statement on the special support page set up for Nest and Alexa stating “there’s no change to device functionality with Alexa right now and that the Nest skill on Alexa will be migrated in the lead up to August.”
Read the full statement right here.
Google Nest: The
Here’s the official Google line on the merging of Google and
“Every decade, there’s a big computing shift.
20 years ago, it was the transition to web. 10 years ago or 12 years ago, it
was the transition to mobile. And now, we’re in the third stage, AI or ambient
computing.” – Rishi Chandra, Google
What’s the big deal with ambient computing then and what does
it even mean?
The reason Chandra qualifies AI computing with the additional
term ambient computing is because this next projected wave doesn’t focus solely
on pushing AI forward.
What’s equally important in 2019 is a more unified consumer
platform rather than a collection of disparate devices.
Forced to rethink product development to chase this goal,
Chandra outlines 3 core obstacles in the way of Google successfully
constructing that cohesive ecosystem:
- The need to develop a range of devices that all operate
neatly within a single ecosystem
- The sensitive nature of smart speakers with the need
for increased privacy with communal devices like these
- Public resistance to existing privacy commitments
this end, the recent merging of Nest and Google to form Google Nest comes with
a new overarching product philosophy along with fresh data privacy policies.
of the collateral damage of this radical shift is the Works with Nest Program,
due to be wound down by the end of August this year.
Goodbye to Works
Google wants to tighten up third-party access to the suite
of data that smart devices can harvest, often without the knowledge of
Rather than Works with
Nest and IFTTT, a new Works with Google program will put the power back in
the search giant’s hands.
Unfortunately, non-Google smart devices will lose
compatibility with Nest devices. With hundreds of these hook-ups initiated by
Google over the past years, this will come as a bitter blow to some. From
losing control of devices to the inability to build out scenes, the impact will
create ripples in the following areas:
- If This, Then That (IFTTT)
- Samsung SmartThings
- Philips Hue
- Logitech Harmony
- Alexa and Alexa-enabled devices
We’ll limit it to these half-dozen key casualties to show
that it’s not just a couple minority devices from leftfield that will be
Google is prepared to weather the storm with many
disgruntled Nest customers having deliberately bought into the brand since it
was not fully part of Google. To this end, there will be a transitional period
allowing Nest owners to fold their accounts into Google accounts so creating
the single platform Google is pushing for.
So, as Works with Nest winds down, what will step in to
To Works with Google Assistant
Works with Google Assistant sounds familiar, this entity already exists but it’s
now set to take on a much more prominent role.
program will accept a range of other devices using entry points like Nest Hub
Max which we’ll look at below.
this new smart display, Google Assistant also comes baked into many smart
phones, and other third-party smart displays like the Lenovo.
program is liable to be very restrictive so don’t expect a shower of compatible
devices right out the gate.
highly unlikely Alexa will be granted certification which is understandable
given the direct competition.
the generally limited nature of Works with Google Assistant, though?
as you all know, smart devices are highly efficient at collecting data. This
came to light when Google Mini was busted eavesdropping
no Works with Nest link in the chain and much tighter controls exerted by
Google, they’re hoping to assuage consumer concern with regard to privacy.
How This Simple
Merging Exposes The Fragile Nature of Smart Home Tech in 2019
As you should see, Google has inarguably taken admirable
steps toward reshaping its privacy and data narrative more favorably.
What’s the impact on the consumer, though?
In a broad sense, this episode brings to bear the fragile
nature of smart home ecosystems as we know them. One simple boardroom decision
has brought about a range of problems for both consumers and manufacturers
invested in the Works by Nest program.
The bottom line is that many manufacturers will be sorely
out of pocket in the short-term while many consumers face devices that simply
won’t work as promised after the end of August.
Not only that, while Google explicitly states it will
attempt to use proprietary tech to replace much of IFTTT, there’s not going to
be the same reach many early adopters enjoyed with If This, Then That.
So it’s clear to see that something as innocuous as a
rebranding and minor pivot with regard to privacy and unifying platforms from
one brand – albeit one as huge as Google – can engender enormous and not
entirely positive repercussions.
We still consider this to be an overall positive, though.
This is a sentiment shared by Google.
“Our belief is that we need to shift from the
smart home to… the helpful home. That’s going to be our mantra.” – Rishi
As the next phase of smart tech starts taking shape, Google
Nest wastes no time in flexing its newly honed muscles with a stellar smart
We’ll round out with a look at Google Nest Hub Max…
Google Nest Hub
Max: The Smart Display Retooled
While Google I/O is not usually the forum for hardware announcements, there were some surprises unveiled at the 2019 conference.
Alongside new versions of Pixel, Nest Home Hub was also revealed
as the natural successor to Google Home
Don’t be wrong-footed by the Max suffix, this is a smart
display rather than another addition to Google Home Max.
The generous 10-inch screen, a marked improvement on the
original Home Hub’s 7-incher could best be described as fit for purpose. While
it’s not the sharpest or most vibrant display you can get in 2019, this is
almost by design…
The underlying aim is not a foolhardy attempt to make Google
Nest Home Hub the single best smart speaker, smart display and smart security
camera rolled into one. Instead, this device is targeted firmly at beginners to
home automation who want a combined device that delivers on all fronts. It also
offers a fantastic entry point to Google’s whole range of smarts.
So that display, then…
Another superb feature the camera permits is Face Match. We
mentioned earlier the privacy issues of using communal smart displays or smart
speakers in multi-person households. During set-up, you can enable facial
recognition for up to 6 users given you increased privacy and more personalized
The camera also makes video calls possible as long as the
recipient has Duo installed on their compatible device.
Whether Google Nest Hub Max makes sense for you, as always,
depends largely on intended purpose and usage.
This neat model won’t be much use if you fancied replacing
your Nest devices with an all-in one solution. It’s great for renters since
you’ve got no issues with mounting cameras but overall functionality is not as
robust as using standalone security solutions.
If, on the other hand, you’re looking to thrust your way
into home automation, this smart display is an exceptional entry point and
we’re genuinely looking forward to it hitting the shelves. Release date was dropped
on stage at I/O as “some time between June and August” so there’s not long to wait!
We hope that you’ve got a decent insight now into the latest
developments with Google and Nest.
If you bought into the Nest ecosystem and you have any
concerns about compatibility or what this merging means for you, don’t hesitate
to get in touch. We’ll be more than happy to help.
Come back next week when we’ll be bringing you more of the
latest smart home news so you can
always stay on top of changes like that likely to impact the functionality of
your connected home.
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