Google has a new Nest Thermostat for your consideration, and it’s cheaper and easier to install than ever. But there’s one other standout detail that’s easy to miss—you don’t control it with the Nest app, like every Nest Thermostat. Instead, you use the Google Home app—it’s the beginning of the end for the Nest app.
A Quick Bit of History
It may be hard to remember, but Nest wasn’t always a Google product. Nest Labs started life as a standalone company, founded by former Apple engineers Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers. That company released the original and second-generation Nest Learning Thermostat, along with the Nest Protect smoke detector.
But in 2014, Google bought the company, promising to let it continue independently from other Google divisions and keep all data separate. Little by little, that changed: the Nest division grew to cover other hardware like smart cameras, speakers, and displays. It also joined the Google hardware division.
Eventually, Google announced that the Works with Nest program would end, and Works with Google Assistant would take its place. To get new features and add new Nest products, Google requires you to convert your Nest account to a Google account.
Last May, Google revamped its Nest Aware subscription plans for Nest cameras. The new plans save you money if you have multiple cameras, but offer less viewing history than the original Nest Aware subscriptions. Again, if you want to join the new plans, you need to convert your Nest account to a Google account. If you don’t have a Nest account, you can’t create one; you have to use a Google account.
Two Apps With Duplicated Functionality
That brings us up to speed. Today, Google has two primary apps for controlling smart home devices. The first is Google Home, which handles smart speakers and displays, and third party smart home integrations like smart bulbs, and plugs, and some Nest Thermostats.
The second is the Nest app, which controls Nest Thermostats, Nest cameras, like Nest Hello and Nest indoor, and the Nest Protect. Through Nest, you can view your camera feeds, silence the Nest Protect, and of course adjust your Nest Thermostat settings.
But more and more, the two apps are duplicating capabilities. You can already control some Nest Thermostats in both Google Home and the Nest app. Nest app has Home and Away options, and now Google Home does too. And according to Google, Nest Protect will arrive on Google Home sometime in “the coming months.”
The Nest Thermostat Is the First Nail in the Coffin
None of that meant the Nest app would go away, of course. But maintaining two apps with duplicated functionality requires extra resources. And the Nest app already required changes to support Google accounts, something the Google Home had from day one.
But the first nail in the coffin is the latest Nest Thermostat. It exclusively works in the Google Home app; you can’t pair it up with the Nest app. Nest Thermostats were the hallmark of the Nest App. It’s easy to see the writing on the wall; and recently Google added partial integration for Nest Cameras in the Google Home app. You can’t adjust some settings yet, but that’s likely coming along with the promised addition of Nest protect.
At that point, it won’t be surprising if Google announces a new Nest camera that only works with Google Home.” As time progresses, avid Nest users who maintained Nest accounts will eventually have to convert. Old products die, and new features are too tempting. First will come account conversion, and then comes the switch to the Google Home app.
None of this bad, of course. I argue that controlling your entire smart home from one app is far more convenient than maintaining several apps with duplicate functionality. At this point, the Nest app does very little that Google Home doesn’t, and the gap is closing. And the Google Home app does plenty the Nest app never will, like controlling your smart bulbs.
But it’s still the beginning of the end for the original dream of Nest Labs, even if Nest itself has a bright future absorbed by Google.