Google announced the end of “Works With Nest” at Google I/O 2019. Many companies, from IFTTT to Philips Hue, use Works With Nest to automate your smarthome. Those automations will break soon.
The “Works With Nest” program is an API third-party companies used to integrate your Nest devices with your smarthome. That shutdown doesn’t happen until August 31, 2019, but after that date, any company or service that uses the program to access data and work with your Nest devices will be cut off. What does that mean for you? It depends on both the companies’ willingness to move to Google’s new program and your willingness to make use of new integrations.
“Works With Nest” Automated Nest Devices
If you own a Nest thermostat or camera, you might have set up Works with Nest integrations without realizing it. The program allowed third-party devices to talk to your Nest devices so they could work together. The list of supported devices is extensive and covers everything from Control4 smarthomes to Lifx and Philips Hue Lightbulbs, to August Locks, Lutron, and more.
The idea is straight forward. For example, if your smarthome-enabled garage door opened, it could reach out to your thermostat and inform it you arrived home. It could tell Nest to adjust the thermostat or start recording with your Nest Camera.
The Program Gave Your Data to Outside Companies
Google sees a fundamental issue with this form of integration. Under the current API, adjusting your thermostat gave full access of your Nest data to your smart garage opener and the company who makes it. That makes some sense. Before telling your thermostat to turn your heat up or down, the other company needs to know how it’s currently set. Once that data leaves Google’s servers, Google can’t make any guarantees that it will be adequately secured or used appropriately.
You can see this in action with a custom made app we made for a home-built smart mirror. The app displays the current and set temperatures along with humidity data. It isn’t showing on a Nest or Google device, so we’re extracting the data from Google’s servers (and technically making the data available on a local server).
From a privacy standpoint, that may be fine as we own the data. But, if an individual can pull all this information using the Works with Nest program, so can a company. Technically speaking, this one-off app could be published, and anyone could use it by signing in with a Nest Account, thus handing over the data of anyone who used the app to a single developer.
Sure, it’s each user’s decision—but does everyone really understand the decision they’re making and how much data they’re handing over?
Works With Nest is Going Away, But All Is Not Lost
If your smart devices or services talk to your Nest products through Works with Nest, they’ll lose that capability after August 31st. Any integration you set up, such as a door lock telling your Nest camera to record, will stop working.