Google's Nest Labs is opening its platform to other developers

Google’s Nest Labs is opening its platform to outside developers, a big step by the thermostat and smoke-detector maker to establish itself in a crowded market to be the operating system for Internet-connected devices in the home. Through Nest, users will be able to communicate with appliances from Whirlpool, cars from Daimler AG ‘s Mercedes-Benz, remote controls from Logitech, and other devices. Google itself is a partner, allowing its personal digital assistant, Google Now, to set the temperature on a Nest thermostat automatically when it detects that a user is coming home. Nest will share limited user information with Google and other partners, and people have to opt in for each new device, said Nest co-founder Matt Rogers.

“Okay Google, turn down the heat.” Using Google Now, a homeowner will soon be able to talk to a Nest Learning Thermostat and complain about the heat. And that’s just the beginning. Google is turning the Nest Learning Thermostat into the hub of smart homes. With the “Works with Nest” certification program, announced today, gadgets, cars and universal remotes will all work with the Thermostat, providing automated actions agnostic of the brand. Suddenly the smart home world is much smaller. Nest’s Matt Rogers says the idea behind this system is to build seamless and practical experiences in the home and to sell more Nest gadgets at the same time. The smart home world is widely fragmented. Everything from smart light bulbs to web-connected thermostats are controlled by a separate app and live in their own world. Several gadgets have attempted to bridge brands and conjoin the worlds, but this requires another gadget and another app, thereby compounding the problem. With the “Works with Nest” program, suddenly, the center of the smart home is the de facto smart home gadget in the Nest Learning Thermostat. The program leans on the sensors within Nest’s products. The product’s motion detection and machine learning are all tapped and farmed out for use by other gadgets.

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