What exactly is Works with Nest?

December 3, 2015

If you’ve browsed the web recently for any kind of Smart Home product, you’ve probably seen the phrase “Works with Nest”.  Nest of course being the company Google acquired back in 2014. The product which first comes to mind for most people is the Nest Thermostat, but there are now the Nest Cam and Nest Protect products as well.

My first thought is that “Works with Nest” was a developer platform or technology with specific documentation, etc., which one would normally find included with a developer API platform. “Works with Nest” does have all of this when one starts digging into it more, but on the surface it is something much simpler, almost idealistic.

After digging through much of the online information available I think the easiest way to understand “Works with Nest” is by simply reading the “How it works” section of their website:

  • Start with Nest.

    “All you need is a Nest Thermostat, Nest Protect or Nest Cam. Add another product, like a light bulb, and they’ll start to notice each other, learn from one another, and help you out – all on their own.

    If you need one of the Nest/Google products, then this is a non-issue for you.

  • Simple, secure setup.

    Sign into your light bulb app, tell it to connect to Nest, then verify your Nest Account. It’s private, secure, and you’re always in control.

    After years of watching technology and software development, something about this statement screams “locked-in, subscription pricing…”? However, I could very easily be wrong about this.
    I’d like to be.

    Is Google private and secure? Well… I guess none of us really know for sure how closely “big brother” is “integrated” and watching. We do know that Google is very good at tracking our web search and email behaviors.

  • It just works.

    You don’t have to be a tech geek to get things working. Once you connect a product to Nest, it automatically starts doing things for you, without you having to program it.

    Here is the core of “Works with Nest”. Being a software developer I seldom see projects that “just work”. However, assume that there are no bugs in the “Works with Next” product: I continue to be amazed how different people interpret different features. What works right for one person, can be a show-stopper for another.  Having someone else decide how a product works in my home seems just a bit pushy – If the behavior can be easily changed, then again, perhaps a non-issue?

    A slightly different perspective on this is whether the “It just works” behavior can be traced and reconfigured if it produces an unwanted outcome. A block-box product tends to be short-lived.

While my above comments will probably come across as negative to most readers, I do find interesting some of the technologies being used when you dig down deeper in to the “Works with Nest” development site. Google has some very smart people working for them. Implementation for many of the “Works with Nest” partner products is still in development, so it’s hard to know exactly how they will work.

As far as cost, technologies which are 100 percent free also have their own risks – At some point people or groups stop improving them. Most people and companies want to be rewarded for their work.

It’s still too early to declare any winners or losers in the Smart Home market, only that it’s a big profitable win for the company which succeeds.

Meanwhile, many people still fight with audio/visual remotes and computer printers – technology you would think would have been perfected a long time ago… At least my garage door opener keeps reliably working (I just wish the outdoor wireless keypad would permanently remember its settings…).

More information: Works with Nest.

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