Works with Nest will stick around for a few extra months

Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Gen in Heat Mode
Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Gen in Heat Mode (Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Works with Nest is being replaced by Works with Google Assistant in the future for greater privacy.
  • Google Assistant will gain the ability to create routines based on your home or away status in 2020.
  • There is still no date on when the final transition will take place.

Earlier this year, Google announced the end of the Works with Nest program and the transition to Works with Google Assistant. Unfortunately, for Nest users, the transition was going to break the functionality many of them had come to rely on. Using the Works with Nest program, users were able to create routines to control devices such as the Nest Learning Thermostat based on whether they were home or away.

The Works with Google Assistant platform doesn't have such controls, meaning routines based on your home or away status would be impossible. Not long after the announcement, there was an outcry from the community which lead to Google delaying the termination of the program and transition to Works with Google Assistant.

Since then, there hasn't been much information about the transition — until recently, when Michele Turner, Senior Director of Google's smart home ecosystem, spoke with Tom's Guide on the subject. First, Turner acknowledged it was a mistake to terminate the program so abruptly without any viable alternative in place for consumers who had come to rely on these automations.

I think the frustrating pieces that we did not have the routines and automations in place for people to be able to cut over to.

Turner also expanded on why Google is even making the transition, and a lot of it has to do with privacy. When Google looked at the APIs and the information the Works with Nest program was sharing with third-party developers, it became uncomfortable.

We have to completely rethink how we're doing Home/Away because we want to be able to have that device to device interaction without giving away the Home states.

The challenge then became to create a way to convey to your smart devices that you are home or away without disclosing this to the third-party developers, which Google is currently working on and hopes to roll it out in early 2020.

Once it is ready, Google Assistant will have the ability to create routines based on your home or away status. Google is also working on integrating this with more of its devices. For instance, your Nest Thermostat would be unable to detect if you are home on the second floor of your house, but your Nest Mini would be able to detect this and relay that information. According to Turner, this should be ready by the next Google I/O event.

As part of the Works with Google Assistant program, device makers will also be required to undergo a security audit. This could take as long as a few weeks or even a few months depending on the devices. That's a large part of the reason we still don't have an upcoming date for the end of the Works with Nest program. Hopefully, this time Google gives us more of a heads up and has some alternatives in place.

Jason England