Google Just Turned Nest into Your Smart Home Hub

The Nest Learning Thermostat just became more than a slick way to manage the temperature in your home. With the new Works with Nest platform, third-party companies can tie into the thermostat to remotely control devices or to adjust your home's temperature based on what you're doing or where you are -- even if that's in your car.

Google's Nest may be your new home automation hubGoogle's Nest may be your new home automation hub

Several companies have already signed on as Works with Nest partners, such as Mercedes, Whirlpool, LIFX, and Jawbone. That's a diverse mix, and shows just deep into our lives the technology can go to manage our homes for us. By tracking the location of your car, for example, Nest can determine if you're on the way home and adjust the temperature so it's exactly where you want when you walk in the door.

Nest is also buying Dropcam for US$555 million, adding remote video monitoring to the mix, too.

Linking to a Jawbone Up can tell Nest when you're active or not, and if you're staying up late, to keep your room comfortable. Through Google Now, smartphone owners can speak to change their thermostat settings, too.

By creating the software developers need to tie into the Nest Learning Thermostat, Google can create a home automation empire without needing to build all of the hardware itself -- much like Apple is doing with HomeKit when iOS 8 ships this fall.

Apple announced HomeKit as part of iOS 8 during its annual Worldwide Developer Conference at the beginning of June. HomeKit turns your iPhone into a nexus for managing smart devices in your home. When used with Siri, statements like, "Time for bed," translate into commands that lock your doors, turn off lights, and turn down the thermostat.

Google and Apple both have long lists of companies promising support for their platforms, which should make for some strong competition in the fight to control our homes. That's good news for consumers who will start finding more devices that work with their home automation platform of choice: either Apple's iOS or Google's Android.

Where Nest may stumble comes over privacy concerns. The company is owned by Google, and although its own privacy policy prohobits sharing personal information with the Internet search giant without explicit permission, there are still concerns that what happens in our homes will become just more information to be sold to advertisers.

Considering the popularity of both operating systems, it isn't likely there will be a clear winner in this fight, and that's OK because developers will support both. Home owners can buy the devices they want, and they'll just work regardless of whether they're connecting to Nest or HomeKit. In this fight, consumers will have plenty to choose from.