Google made many announcements at its recent developer conference, Google I/O 2016, but yet some announcements that members of the technology media and technology enthusiasts in general were waiting for failed to materialize. While we were given great news on the new Google Assistant and the Google Home device, there were no follow-up announcements on the Brillo and Weave technologies announced at last year’s Google I/O conference. And, zero news came from Nest, either. While Nest is not technically part of Google (it’s owned by Alphabet, Google’s new parent company), surely there can be some cross-over?
Last year, Google Brillo was introduced as an operating system for Internet of Things (IoT) and home automation devices. It was lean, low-power, secure and would “scrub out” the competition! (OK, we added that last part just for fun!) Brillo isn’t a framework like HomeKit, but is a stripped-down version of Android, and specifically made for devices that are low-power with little memory, think: battery-operated sensors and the like.
Along with Brillo, Google introduced Weave, a home automation and IoT framework similar to HomeKit. Weave take some of the burden of device communication, provisioning and setup off of the shoulders of developers and gives them a common language and components from which to work from. Weave will evidently work for both the Android and iOS platforms, unlike HomeKit which is iOS-only. Weave will require specific chipsets to be included in devices, much like HomeKit does, and there is a belief that HomeKit-certified devices may be able to run Google Weave as well.
And, of course, let’s not confuse this with Nest Weave. Introduced in October of last year, Nest Weave allows for device-to-device communication and allows non-Nest devices to interact with Nest devices. Nest Weave was previously only used by Nest products to communicate with each other, along with Thread - but let’s not talk about Thread right now.
We can’t mention Nest without asking the question, where is the “Nest Home” device? Where is its “Amazon Echo Killer”? And, is Nest doing OK? Or will it become a failed company in another year or so? While now seemingly separated from Google because of the Alphabet ownership structure, Nest does claim to talk with Googlers on a regular basis about products and such.
But, beyond Nest, two versions of Weave and the Brillo pads that Google introduced last year….where are the product announcements? We heard a blip or two about products at CES earlier this year, most notably a smart oven from Electrolux that will work with Brillo and Weave but not much else. Google only has one major announcement per year, and this was it. Even their calendar of the various sessions at I/O 2016 didn’t appear to have much in the way of Brillo and Weave information. Obviously Weave is going to work with the new Google Assistant and Google Home, so you can turn on your lights by voice and trigger other devices based on your lights turning on or your presence being detected at home by your new OnHub router. But again, no new information. Google Home arrives “later this year”, and perhaps that is when a slew of products will hit the market that will be compatible with it. Only time will tell, since the only radio that we can assume the Google Home device has on-board is at least Wi-Fi.
And finally, what is going on with Nest? After wowing the world with an innovative smart thermostat and smoke detector, buying DropCam and Revolv (then later bricking those innovative smart home hubs) and being purchased and re-positioned by Google, what has it done lately? Articles speak of internal squabbles and Tony Fadell’s difficult management style, but how is Nest truly making the home “smart”? Or, as it calls it “thoughtful”? Nest has a “Works with Nest” program which features many one-way device integrations, some which seem completely pointless and might just exist to say “hey, we work with EVERYONE!”
Is the Nest thermostat a smart home “hub”? Not in the traditional sense. It would appear at this point, without any looming announcements, that Nest’s vision of the “smart home” is one that does not contain a hub, and which all devices talk to each other and the cloud and just magically “work together”. But their current implementation of this, well, just doesn’t really work as well as it could.
We here at Smarter Home Life firmly believe that the “smarter home” needs some sort of control “hub” or “brain” that is always present and can be easily setup and “programmed” by the occupants of that home. We’re not even sure at this point if the Amazon Echo or Google Home are truly those products. We’ll find out this fall how far Google (and Nest) have advanced when the Google Home device hits the market.
The home automation market is currently a confusing mess. We’re here to bring clarity to it and show consumers how home automation can be done right, without breaking the bank.