If you built a smart home security and automation system with Nest, you’re going through some growing pains right now. The company, acquired by Google in 2014, has now been brought fully under the Alphabet umbrella to become Google Nest. We say “growing pains” but the transition process shouldn’t actually be painful: Google is making it easy to shift from a Nest account to a unified Google account that controls all the same capabilities, plus tacking on new assurances about convenience and privacy.
Migrating your account
You have probably already received prompts to migrate from your Nest account to a Google account. Migrating isn’t necessary — you can keep your Nest account and its corresponding terms and policies — but it is highly recommended. One account allows for a more cohesive user experience. Your Nest devices will join forces with other Google devices, and all will be controllable through a single interface. And while security updates will still be available through a Nest account, feature upgrades won’t be. Plus, if you already have a Google account, migrating is as simple as logging in.
Works with Nest, the third-party developer program, is closing down. You will lose access to third-party devices when you convert your Nest account to Google, but either way, they will lose functionality on August 31. That said, Works with Google Assistant is here to stay. Developers are encouraged to retool their devices for the Google ecosystem. While the loss of access to any existing devices not suited to Google is a disappointment, the upswing is that Google promises to only allow highly vetted partnerships through their Works with Google Assistant program — another security boon.
How Google Nest uses your data
Google has centralized security and privacy in recent product and system developments, with a special focus on providing users with easy methods of controlling how their data is collected, stored, and used. Migrating to Google Nest means you can take advantage of Google’s new and improved ways of managing data. Check out the full FAQ here.
Data not released to advertisers
- Audio and visual recordings. What your Google Nest devices record is used for the functionality and betterment of the devices and are not released to third parties. For extra security, you can delete the recordings following these instructions.
- Environmental and activity sensors. Motion, light, temperature, humidity, and whether or not someone is home — this type of information isn’t released to third parties, but it’s also not controllable by the user. Google uses this data to inform and improve their in-house operations (and their own advertising).
- Location data. A popular feature from the original Nest system, Home/Away Assist allows your home’s devices to go into pre-programmed modes depending on your location (as informed by the location of your phone.) Your location info isn’t shared with other parties, but is again used by Google itself.
Data released to advertisers
Google assistant usage. Whenever you use voice control to direct your Google Nest system, those assistant queries are released to advertisers to help personalize services and ads. You can review and delete queries in the My Activity section of your Google account.
Reliant on Google Cloud
Google’s push to bring everything Nest in-house is a boon for user convenience as well as security, but it does make you heavily reliant on Google’s Cloud Platform. Soon after Google announced Google Nest would be consolidating Nest and Google Home, a network congestion issue resulted in users not being able to use the basic functions of their smart home system, including locks, monitoring, and AC. Google’s typical speed at resolving this type of issue can usually be relied upon to avoid any real inconvenience, but it’s worthwhile to keep in mind that not putting all your eggs in one basket is generally good practice.