You Don't Own What You've Bought: Google Nest Edition
from the the-end-of-ownership dept
Well, here we go again. One of the common themes here over the past few years is how in the digitization of everything, the very meaning of “ownership” and “property” has changed — and not necessarily in good ways. The latest example: last week Google more or less announced the end of its “Works with Nest” program, as it migrates Nest from a separate entity into the Google mothership, and trying to move other “internet-of-things” devices into the Google Assistant ecosystem instead. As the Verge notes, this will upset a bunch of systems that used to work one way, and no longer will going forward.
The Works with Nest program has been around since 2014, and many device makers integrated their products with it. That now means thousands of devices and services are in limbo with no guarantee all of them will be ported into the Works with Google Assistant program, either because their developers don?t have the resources to rewrite their integrations or because Google won?t offer the same amount and types of data to third parties anymore.
Today, companies like Lutron, SimpliSafe, and others make use of Nest?s home / away states to control things like lighting, smart blinds, home security systems, and more. Some of these larger companies are hopeful that they?ll be able to bring all of their existing features over when they shift fully to the Google Assistant program later this year, but they can?t give their customers any real guarantee that things won?t change significantly.
A notice emailed to Lutron customers after Google?s announcement said that 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. It will also remove the ability to control the Nest thermostat from within the Lutron smartphone app.
The Verge also put together a list of “popular Works with Nest integrations that will break” once Google makes this shift:
- Amazon Alexa will not be able to adjust the Nest Thermostat or display Nest Cam feeds
- Logitech Harmony remotes won?t be able to change Nest alarm and home / away modes
- Philips Hue lights will not be able to change color when Nest Protect detects smoke or carbon monoxide, nor will they be able to change state when Nest Cam detects movement
- Lutron lights will not turn on when the Nest thermostat or Nest Cam detects people
- August Home will not be able to set the Nest Thermostat to home or away when locks are opened or closed
- SimpliSafe will not be able to directly set the Nest Thermostat to home or away
- Wemo switches will not be able to change state when Nest is set to home or away
The article goes into a lot more detail as well. There are good reasons for this move — Google itself says it will better protect user data and privacy, which would be a good thing (especially given the privacy shitshow that the IOT space has been over the years). But, it’s also a reminder that ownership has become a lot more nebulous when you’re relying on third party service providers to make the stuff that you bought actually work.