Apple

Nest devices can now talk to the rest of your house

Thanks to a new API, Nest's thermostat and smoke detector products can now talk to your Mercedes and Whirlpool washer to give you a smarter house.

Nest
 Image: Nest

As part of its WWDC keynote, Apple announced that it would offer a new service called HomeKit in iOS 8. This developer framework will (theoretically) allow users to easily interact with all of their Internet of Things (IoT) devices seamlessly, without needing to download a dozen different apps for each brand of Internet-connected device they own.

It's definitely a promising development -- and if anyone can bring all the different IoT companies together for one platform, it's Tim Cook and Apple. Or is it?

Nest, the Google-owned company behind the popular Internet connected Nest Thermostat and Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector, today announced a new developer program that allows app-cessory makers to work with Nest products to improve the customer experience.

In a blog post announcing the new program, Nest co-founder Matt Rogers said the program is all about making a "more conscious and thoughtful home." The program appears to focus a lot on security, allowing various devices to interconnect without sharing more data than necessary with each company.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Rogers said that most data shared will focus on whether users are at home or not and that third-party companies will not get a name, email, or home address of users from Nest. Additionally, integration with Google -- which purchased Nest earlier this year -- would not be any different than partnerships with outside companies.

"Most of the data that Nest will share - with Google and others - will focus on whether users are at home or not, as detected by sensors on the thermostat. When people link a home device and related account with Nest, the company will not share their email address, name or home address with other companies, Rogers said.

"Each company linking to Nest, including Google, will have to write to users explaining what data they are using and how they will use the information, Rogers said. There will also be a way to un-link the devices from Nest with one click through its mobile app, he added."

The program already shows a lot of promise, particularly with some of the big names that Nest has already partnered with for the launch of the program. For busy executives, this program could help make life a little more comfortable without needing any extra thought. Among the announced partners:

  • Mercedes will use navigation and traffic data to tell Nest when you will arrive home, allowing the thermostat to heat or cool your house.
  • Jawbone's UP24 fitness wristband knows when you wake up and can turn on the heat or A/C before you get out of bed.
  • Chamberlain's smart garage door openers can automatically set home or away status for the thermostat.
  • Whirlpool's smart dryers can automatically switch to an anti-wrinkle mode when you're away because it knows you won't be there to remove them
  • LIFX smart light bulbs can automatically make it appear as if someone is home when the Nest Thermostat is in away mode by turning lights on and off. With the Nest Protect smoke detector, LIFX bulbs can flash red to alert hearing impaired homeowners that there is an emergency in the house.

Though Nest doesn't reveal precise sales figures, it has sold more than a million thermostats and thousands of Protect smoke detectors. Its acquisition by Google -- and recent purchase of Dropcam for $555 million -- put it in an excellent position to challenge Apple as the central hub for the IoT.

I'd wager most consumers are hoping the systems will somehow mesh and work together seamlessly, though we'll have to wait and see how it pans out.

Do you have Nest products in your home? Are you excited about the possibilities for interconnecting all of your devices? Let us know in the comments below.

About

Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.

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