Google is shutting down its Works with Nest program, cutting off access to Nest products for third-party companies and requiring the use of Google Assistant. But Google announced one exception: Alexa will still be able to control Nest hardware.
Google Is Cutting Off Nest Access for Third Parties
Recently, Google announced it would wind down its Works with Nest program. Works with Nest allowed products from other companies to control the Nest—your garage door opener could tell your thermostat to turn up the heat for instance. If a company wanted any form of integration, it would need to move over with Works with Google Assistant.
That program doesn’t allow for direct control of Nest; instead, you’d set up routines to do the work. And another obvious issue arose from the change: The Works with Nest skills built for Alexa wouldn’t work. And, given that Alexa is a voice assistant on its own, making the jump to Works with Google Assistant is out of the question.
Alexa Gets a Reprieve
Alexa currently uses Works With Nest to control Nest hardware, and websites like The Verge have reported that Alexa integration will stop working on August 31, 2019. That’s true—Alexa’s current Works With Nest-based integration will break on that date.
But, according to a page on Nest’s website spotted by Ars Technica—we’re not sure if it was up the whole time or if Google put it up later—this isn’t the case.
Google says it will work with Amazon to enable Alexa’s control over Nest hardware going forward. Google promises to complete the transition before the shutdown and goes on to say all Alexa will keep all its current Nest integrations.
Smarthomes Are Turning Into Walled Gardens
Google working with Amazon is good news for Alexa users. But everyone else relying on Wink Hubs, IFTTT, Yonomi, Lutron, and anyone else using Works With Nest will still lose functionality. Smarthomes work best with open standards. You should be able to buy products from different companies and they should work together.
Alexa appears to be getting a special exception that other voice assistants, services, and companies won’t have access to. If relations between Google and Amazon go down the tubes again, that could even imperil Alexa’s special access with Nest.
By blocking access to Nest hardware for most companies, Google may be securing your data—but it’s also putting up fences around its walled garden. Future voice assistants (and current third-party options like Mycroft), will start at a disadvantage that may be incredibly difficult to overcome.
Even established device manufacturers like Lutron have stated that the features it offered under the old Nest program are impossible to support under the new Google Assistant program. Going forward, as you buy smarthome devices, you’ll have you ask yourself if it fits within your smarthome ecosystem. And, if it doesn’t, you may find yourself looking for the Google device to go in your “Google home.”