Google Assistant

By: Nick Gambino

Way back, a million years ago, in 2014, Google purchased Nest and then did…nothing substantial. The Nest branding stayed intact and largely continued to operate as it had before its acquisition.

Fast forward to this week and Google has now finally decided to bring Nest into the Google family of smart home products. Google Home speakers and other products now carry the Nest logo and offer seamless integration between your thermostat, cameras, speakers and more. They will henceforth be known collectively as “Google Nest.”

“There’s not one device that makes your home smart,” Rishi Chandra, VP of Product at Google, told The Verge. “Each device has different types of sensors, and inputs and outputs, and capabilities. But from the user standpoint it should feel like it was architected as one system design that all works together.”

While this is good news for those that have a Google account and would benefit from integrating their existing products, there’s a catch for those that don’t. Google has announced that they’re discontinuing their “Works with Nest” program that allows Nest products to work hand in hand with third-party devices like Amazon Echo. They are replacing it with “Works with Google Assistant.”

What this means is that anyone who currently enjoys smart home integration between Nest and anything not Google is about to have that “cord” severed unless they have Google Assistant, but even that’s not guaranteed. There are plenty of devices that have not been integrated with this new system. Google claims this is a push towards privacy and will see less third-party companies gaining access to user data. This may be true, but it also feels like a push toward exclusivity.

Anyone who wants to maintain a fully integrated home across various devices will now have to sign up for a Google account. Smart business? Yes. Smart move? No. This is the type of mentality that critics scorched Apple for. By allowing cross-platform compatibility and goodwill, customers would be more inclined to feel loyal to that company.

Google did tell Variety that they would continue to share user data with a select number of vetted partners. The whole thing just seems unnecessary. I’m all for improved security but if the user authorizes the third-party access then shouldn’t that be enough? The decision should be the user’s, not Google’s.