Google appeals for calm over upcoming ‘Works with Nest’ shutdown

The tech giant has backpedaled on a stiff cut-off point for Nest account users.

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Google has revised its plans for the migration from Works with Nest (WWN) to the Works with Google Assistant platform (WWGA) in an attempt to calm users concerned that their smart home setups will soon fail.

Google acquired Nest and its range of smart thermostats and alarms back in 2014. Now the companies are merged under the Google Nest brand, the tech giant said last week that in the name of simplification, the way Nest and Google accounts operate is due to change.

On the chopping block was WWN and developers were told that from 31 August 2019, the Works with Nest program would wind down. Instead, developers were asked to shift to the Works with Google Assistant scheme.

Google says that retiring the program will boost future smart home features and improve data security and control, but the announcement raised questions over whether current IoT home setups would be disrupted.

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WWN allows Nest products to interact with third-party devices, skills, and smart hubs. The cut-off point, therefore, may have broken the connections between different gadgets, such as the use of an automatic schedule for your heating, or how you control your smart lighting.

Facing a deluge of questions and speculation, Google has attempted to soothe developers and consumers alike by tweaking the migration plan.

On Thursday, Michele Turner, Director of Product and Smart Home Ecosystem for Google Nest said the company is "committed to supporting the integrations you value and minimizing disruptions during this transition," and so existing devices and integrations will continue to work with Nest accounts beyond the retirement date.  

Smart home life, therefore, will continue as normal to give developers the time to catch up. Google says that once WWN functions are available on WWGA, users will then be able to migrate with "minimal disruption from a Nest Account to a Google Account."

However, you will not be able to access any of the new features that will roll out through Google accounts unless you make the transition. In addition, new WWN connections will be stopped on the retirement date.

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One of the most popular WWN features, the automatic trigger of routines based on Home and Away statuses, is a sticking point and one that consumers would not like to be without. To prevent these facilities being removed, Google intends to bring the same functionality to Google Assistant later in the year as well as provide more device options in the Google account ecosystem. 

Amazon, too, as a rival smart home device producer, cannot be forgotten. The Amazon Echo is already an established product in smart homes and Google says it is working with Amazon to make sure the Nest skill, used to control Nest devices via the Alexa voice assistant, will also be migrated to WWGA with minimal fuss.

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"We know we can't build a one-size-fits-all solution, so we're moving quickly to work with our most popular developers to create and support helpful interactions that give you the best of Google Nest," Google added. "Our goal remains to give you the tools you need to make your home, and those of other Nest users, helpful in the ways that matter most to you."

If your IoT and Nest integrations are currently running through a Nest account, it is probably best to wait and not migrate too quickly or you may temporarily lose some of the functionality of your smart home. It will not be possible to roll back and so shifting before these important functions are signed off in WWGA could leave you with limited and dumb -- rather than smart -- connections at home. 

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