Google’s surprise announcement that it would replace its Home brand with Nest was well-received. Then all hell broke loose.
The issue here has nothing to do with branding. Instead, users became outraged when they learned that, as part of the transition from Google Home to Google Nest, Google would be killing its “Works with Nest” platform and replacing it with the existing “Works with Google Assistant” program. Works with Nest is a sort of certification program for compatibility, and the underlying platform ensures that individual Nest devices and Nest-compatible third-party devices can work together to provide seamless and automated whole-house smart home functionality.
The original plan was to shut down Works with Nest on August 31, 2019, at which time all Nest users’ carefully-constructed smart home configurations would stop working. Worse, it’s not yet possible to completely recreate these configurations in Google Home, let alone import Nest configurations. And some makers of third-party Nest-compatible devices began notifying their users that things would start to break.
“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,” an email from smart lighting firm Lutron reads, explaining the change. “It will also remove the ability to control the Nest thermostat from within the Lutron smartphone app.”
Additionally, some privacy advocates who were already not that excited that Google owned Nest in the first place complained that Google was breaking its promise to keep Nest and Google user data separate from each other.
So, Google has replied to the complaints and is adjusting its plans.
“We’re committed to supporting the integrations you value and minimizing disruptions during this transition,” Google’s Michele Turner writes. “[Now], we’ll stop accepting new Works with Nest (WWN) connections on August 31, 2019. Once your WWN functionality is available on the Works with Google Assistant (WWGA) platform you can migrate with minimal disruption from a Nest Account to a Google Account.”
WWGA, Google says, already works with over 30,000 devices from over 3,500 partners. And the firm believes that this platform’s Assistant Routines feature, which lets users customize how their smart devices work together based on simple triggers, is a suitable replacement for Nest’s broader set of built-in functionality. But Google will evolve Assistant Routines to work more like Nest.
“Later this year, we’ll bring the [WWN functionality to automatically trigger routines based on Home/Away status] to the Google Assistant and provide more device options for you to choose from,” Turner continues. “For example, you’ll be able to have your smart light bulbs automatically turn off when you leave your home. Routines can be created from the Google Home or Assistant apps, and can be created using the hardware you already own. Plus we’re making lots of improvements to setup and managing Routines to make them even easier to use.”
Google is also working with Amazon to migrate the Nest skill that lets users control their Nest thermostat and view their Nest camera livestream via Amazon Alexa.
Google has owned Nest since 2014, but it didn’t merge the Nest and Google hardware teams until 2018. Many had expected Google to eventually kill the Nest brand in favor of Google Home, but this month it did the opposite, when it killed Google Home as a hardware brand and replaced that with Nest.