Last week, Nest nearly doubled its number of Smart Home gear with the addition of Nest Secure, Nest Hello, and Nest Cam IQ Outdoor. And, as always, they look great. Nest is clearly trying to be the Apple of home automation with pricey, minimalistic devices you want to show off instead of hide away in the corners or your room. But, is Nest taking the right approach? Where is the innovation? The thermostat was a game changer, but what is Nest thinking now?
My initial thoughts on Nest Secure are mixed and I’m left with a lot of questions and concerns. Let’s first start with the ecosystem.
Based on what I can tell, all of the new products will utilize the same Nest App. Ok. I can deal with that, but seems like it could be a UI nightmare. But, my larger concern is interoperability between all of their products. Even if they are all managed in the same app, it doesn’t mean they work together. Let’s take a few scenarios:
- An intruder walks up to the door and my outdoor IQ and Hello both see this person. Does my phone blow up because of the multiple notifications? What happens here inside of the app? Do I have to dismiss one notification and then open the other? It’s cumbersome and I’m really interested to see how this plays out.
- An intruder walks up to my door at 3am in the morning (think time based scenarios). I know it’s not a friend, my mailman, or FedEx. There is no reason the person should be there. Does the Nest ecosystem talk to each other? In other words, IQ and/or Hello should tell Secure to sound its internal siren.
The list goes on and on. Nest makes great products with sometimes-great software. The biggest concern is that they build them in silos instead of building them in relation to each other. IQ or Hello should recognize my face and disarm my alarm as I walk up to the door, yes? The future of smart homes will not be multiple apps with multiple purposes, or one app slamming independent devices together. A true smart home ecosystem doesn’t separate security from comfort or doorbells from lighting. It’s all the same thing with different desired outcomes (more on this later).
What is Nest Secure?
Nest Secure was introduced to the world as nothing more than a stand alone security system like we’ve seen for years.
- Base station with keypad, motion sensor, siren (85db), and battery backup
- 2 sensors that detect door opening, motion
- 2 fobs
- ability to add on more sensors, fobs
- $499 for the starter kit
- $5/mo if you want cell backup
- $XX/mo for professional monitoring
This is super disappointing. I’ll explain why in a bit. But, for now, if you want a simple, basic, traditional alarm system, this might be a good one. If you wanted something for your smart home, I just don’t see how this is the way to go…yet.
As a stand alone security system, the primary complaint I’m hearing is the same one we always hear. What if the bad guy cuts the power, hits it with a hammer, etc. I mean, come on, it’s not even mounted to anything. It just sits there :)
Sure, an intruder could destroy your system or kill the power from the outside. But, at this point, the alarm has detected the intruder and the rest is up to either you (app notification) or the monitoring service. This is really no different than any other security system. I consider this a non-issue… but, this system won’t be truly secure without the cell backup and monitoring plans.
As a stand-alone system, Nest is simple and functional. Now let’s get down to what Nest Secure should be.
What Nest Secure Should be?
Nest Secure is a nice little system. It detects motion and doors/windows opening. What I’m sad about is that Nest didn’t take the opportunity to change the industry like they did with the thermostat. Nest should have created ‘My Nest.’ My Nest would change the thinking that you have a bunch of different devices doing different things. Instead, My Nest would create an environment of products that work together to provide a more comfortable, secure, convenient life.
My Nest, would be a hub, of sorts, that pulls together all of the Nest Products. There is no need to treat every piece of hardware as having one function. The tasks come first, then supported by hardware. Let’s take an example of how My Nest would work:
I wake up in the morning and while in bed, I ask Alexa, “how is the house doing.”
She tells me, “last night was quiet, but your backyard camera (IQ) picked up some unidentifiable motion. You might want to check your app.”
I’m working from home today, bu am a little concerned about the backyard, so I tell Alexa, “please arm the back yard.” Alexa would then trigger the Secure alarm siren if IQ sees something in the back yard, all through My Nest.
Tomorrow, I’m leaving for a trip and I want My Nest to be more secure than normal, so I tell Alexa, “starting tomorrow, turn on full security.” This would tell My Nest to not only secure the devices that are part of Secure, but also trigger Secure siren if the driveway or backyard cams see a person. I also have this feature setup to run at night only.
In a few weeks, I get back from my trip. As I walk up to the door, IQ and/or Hello notice that it’s me (face recognition) and the alarm is disarmed. When I enter the house, Secure motion detector notices me and says, “welcome back. While you were gone, there were no alarms triggered, the AC ran less than normal, your thermostat needs a firmware update, your alarm schedule and routines have been set back to home. Don’t forget to change your filter on Friday.”
The next day, my kids are playing in the front yard. I’ve told My Nest, through Alexa, to let me know if it sees more than 2 people (two kids). IQ then tells my app, but also announces it through the base station, “more than 2 people have been detected in the front yard.” Now, my wife and I can easily look outside and confirm all is ok.
As you can see, My Nest is about life scenarios. My Nest has a web/app interface that makes it easy to creating events, routines, etc. all by selecting the hardware, times, triggers.
Until We Get There
I doubt we’ll see a true smart home solution that pulls all of the Nest products together and I think most people will be ok with that. The products look good and generally do what they are designed to do in simple, un-intrusive ways. In the near term, I’ll look for Nest to support or answer the following questions:
- How will all of your products play together?
- Will Secure/Hello/Cameras support third party integration? I want lights to flash red if the alarm goes off.
- How friendly will Nest be towards IFTTT? A lot of the problems can be resolved with more robust IFTTT support.
- I’m interested to see how the app works when multiple devices are ‘triggered’ at the same time.
- I know voice integration (Alexa) is coming, but I’m curious to see how powerful this will be. Sadly, I’m assuming we’ll just be able to arm, disarm via voice.
Of course, I’ll probably buy all of these products (unless they want to give me some to demo :) ) to add to my existing smart home. As long as Nest continues to make great hardware with a focus on AI and better ‘My Nest’ experiences, they’ll remain the top dog and pricing will be less relevant to consumers.
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