As a standalone device, Nest is cool. The 'Works with Nest' program makes it invaluable
In the first part of our Nest Thermostat series, I called this device the first connected home appliance everyone should want to own. Curiously, this statement had very little to do with the hardware itself (although I do still think it's one of the nicest looking thermostats out there today) or even really the apps that help make that hardware useful. The core of any connected home gadget needs to be a combination of thoughtful software design and an ability to talk to the other devices in the home. The closer you can get to an open platform for connected home tech, the better. Nest isn't currently what I would call an open platform, but the company has been working very hard to play nice with as many different devices as possible through a program they call "Works with Nest."
The good news is there's already a ton of things out there that work with this program. The even better news is when you combine Nest with other tech you get a lot of very cool things in return.
Read more from our Nest series:
One of the coolest things about the Works with Nest program is how many different options there are. The full list of supported products is significant, and more partnerships are announced all the time. Nest partnered with Philips to add its Hue smart lighting functionality into this mix, which meant there are new features that become available when you connect these two technologies. Specifically, Nest will tell Hue when you are away so that your lights can dim and turn off when you obviously aren't using them. If you're away for more than a day, Nest will tell Hue to turn a few lights back on to make it look like someone is home and deter would-be burglars. This is a nice option to have, but it's also not exclusive to Philips. Rather than work with just one company for smart lighting solutions, Nest has also partnered with LIFX, Lutron, Insteon, Osram, and Stack to offer similar features for many different kinds of connected bulbs.
It's not just about using Nest to make other tech smarter. Since the Nest Thermostat only has the one set of sensors built into the dial, there's no way of knowing or reacting when you have that one room in your house that is always colder or warmer than the others. Nest works with several different companies that independently poll your environment for temperature and humidity to do a better job keeping your whole house the way you want it. WallyHome, Zuli, and Withings all offer data back to Nest to to help make the whole house communicate, and with the help of tech from Automatic, Kevo, and Jawbone Nest can better determine when you are asleep and when you are away from the house in order to be more efficient.
Connected-home tech playing nice to make your life easier is the big justification for ownership, and that doesn't end with hardware. IFTTT gives you a lot of additional software flexibility and allows you to tie in software that you are already comfortable with. For example, in order to have a more detailed log of how my thermostat is performing (since Nest only lets you see ten days of activity right now), I have IFTTT recipes aimed at filling out a spreadsheet on Google Drive any time certain conditions are met. You could also set a location trigger through your phone to set Home or Away when you leave your house if auto away isn't efficient enough for you. With the massive list of things IFTTT plays nice with, there is no shortage of great ideas in their constantly growing recipe list for Nest.
Ultimately, this is the power of a connected home. It's not about one device doing a couple of neat tricks and looking like it is from the future. It's about creating a network in your home of hardware that works for the user and reduces or eliminates those tedious daily routine sort of things that we do because they must be done manually. That can't happen as long as there are closed networks that only play nice with hardware under that one brand, and it's partnership programs like Works with Nest that will encourage more growth than anything else.