‘Works with Nest’ FAQ: Google’s Smart Home Plans

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Google is hard at work expanding its Nest program, turning it into one of the most interconnected, complex smart home systems around. If you are a fan of Google products and want to adopt more home automation, it’s time to learn more about the big plans for Nest.

What is Google’s ‘Works with Next’ Program?

Nest, as you may remember, is a smart thermostat that can be programmed and controlled wirelessly, but can also learn your daily patterns and regulate temperature itself to help you save money. Google bought Nest as part of a major push into the smart home market. All of Google’s additional activity in home automation, especially in 2014, revolved around Nest, which is now offered through the Google store and similar venues.

Eventually this led to the creation of the program called Works with Nest, which is a developer program that Google has set up to allow multiple smart devices from multiple companies to work with Nest and with each other. Google has been consistently adding new partners to the Works program to create a wide network of device that can interact with each other in new and interesting ways. Jawbone, Google Now, IFTTT, and a number of other formats can be used to control all Nest devices.

What Does it Mean for Smart Devices?

The goal is to create a platform that allows multiple devices to speak to each other, exchanging data and making automated decisions more accurately. Of course, it also creates broader demand for Google products and encourages new developers of smart devices to guarantee compatibility with Nest and other Google devices.

Speaking of other Google devices, Nest is not the only product owned directly by Google in the Works program. One of the largest purchases occurred in late October 2014, when Google acquired Revolv and added its compatibility to the Works for New platform. Google had several reasons behind this second big acquisition: First, it removes some potential heavy-hitter competition. Revolv has been around for a while, and uses the same basic idea as Works, trying to get multiple smart devices from various other companies working on the same platform. Now Google gets all that compatibility, while also removing a rival. Google has also acquired all the talent behind the Revolv software, which will likely be used to bolster and refine Works.

What Sort of Brands Have Signed Up?

Nest partners are in a current state of high growth, so it is a little difficult to be completely accurate at this point. Thanks to the Revolv acquisition, Google has probably gained the means to offer compatibility with multiple Revolv partners. However, the officially announced list of partners is also very impressive:

  • Ivee’s voice-activation system offers voice commands for Nest and gives vocal updates about Nest status.
  • The Life360 app monitors house movement and alerts Nest when the house is empty.
  • Rachio sprinklers can activate when Nest senses smoke.
  • The Pebble smart watch can receive Nest updates and control the temperature.
  • WallyHome can sense remote temperatures from the other end of the house for Nest.

This list keeps on growing. Additionally, Google is offering more simple compatibility with a number of other brands, protocols and organizations, including (deep breath) Whirlpool, Logitech, Mercedes Benz, Big Ass Fans, Philips, Control4, Crestron, Remote Technologies Incorporated, Universal Remote Control, LIFX, and, as already mentioned, Jawbone and IFTTT. That’s a lot of compatibility.

What are Google’s Long-Term Plans?

The Revolv acquisition (plus similar Google buys, like Dropcam) and the continued growth of the Works program suggest that Google is serious about being a major player in the smart home space. Revolv has its own hub, which suggests Google is going to adopt a hub device for all the smart devices, or perhaps develop its own. The Works program is likely to offer continuing compatibility, too, branching away from the Nest thermostat and allowing multiple devices to talk to each other for a variety of reasons. Some of this is already showing up, as seen with Philips plans on making its Hue LED smart bulbs compatible with Nest.

How Can I Get On Board?

Follow Google’s smart home news and what new devices are compatible with Nest and its growing platform. The Works with Nest site is currently a good source of information on the latest developments. Then you have all the information you need to buy devices for their Nest compatibility, eventually creating a smart home with tons of intercommunication. If you are just starting out, keep in mind that the Nest thermostat costs $249 from Google Play.

Photo Credit: Jeff Wilcox

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