Nest Is Opening Its Smart Home Platform to Third Party Developers ... Like Google

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
June 24 2014 5:12 PM

Nest Is Opening Its Smart Home Platform to Third Party Developers ... Like Google

nest
Nest could even talk to your toaster someday.

Graphic from Nest.

The smarthome company Nest is making moves. On Friday it announced that it was acquiring home surveillance startup Dropcam. On Monday, in anticipation of Google’s I/O developer conference, which begins Wednesday, Nest said that it will open its platform and API to developers who want to their networked gadgets to interface with Nest products. And for the first time Google, Nest’s parent company, will gain access to user data for integration with services like Google Now. It’s taken its first steps into a larger world.

A lot of the functionality will center around the Nest platform’s ability to tell other apps when you’re at home and when you’re out. For example, Nest announced that new Whirlpool washers and dryers will use information about whether you’re home to activate mold or wrinkle reducing measures for clothes left in the machines. Smart lighting company LIFX is another early Nest integrator. The service will use what you’ve told the Nest app about your vacation to control your lights so it looks like you’re home sometimes.

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Google’s access to Nest data will enable you to set and change the temperature in your home using voice commands, and it will also use Google Now to prepare the environment in your home for your arrival when you’re close by. As companies like Apple look to get in the smart home game with hubs like HomeKit, Nest may have an advantage in terms of name recognition.

To really dominate, Nest will have to lure crucial partners through its new developer access, and also show that its platform is safe and secure. Connection to Google makes Nest a powerful hub, but it also raises privacy questions. Brian Blau, an analyst at the IT consulting firm Gartner, told the Wall Street Journal, “There’s a higher expectation of privacy when you are in your home. What will happen to all this data? That is something that Google and Nest will have to be careful about.”

The walls are about to have a lot of ears.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

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