Nest Will Open Up Devices to Google After All

You remember that thing where Google bought Nest, but Nest would stay separate, and it wouldn't be sharing its data with Google anyway, so shut up about privacy? Yeah, turns out there should have been an asterisk attached, and the footnote for that asterisk would have said, "Yeah, not so much."

Let's see what that might look like, thanks to Jeff Gamet's Photoshop awesomeness:


At the time of the purchase, Nest said, "Our privacy policy clearly limits the use of customer information to providing and improving Nest’s products and services. We’ve always taken privacy seriously and this will not change."

There was always a loophole in that statement, the bit about "providing and improving Nest’s products and services." On Tuesday, Google and Nest sat in a self-driving car that drove through that loophole by announcing some Google apps and services would be able to access Nest devices.

To be sure, it's an opt-in thing. Customers will be able to choose to open up their devices to Google, and by doing so, Google Now can turn on your Nest Thermostat when you're close to home, or a Jawbone Up can tell the thermostat to stay on because it knows you're active, or blah blah blah.

But the heart of this is that despite all the pious bleating from Nest about protecting your privacy, the company is instead opening up that data to Google. What's interesting is to note the defensive posturing of Matt Rogers, cofounder of Nest, in response to this news.

He told The Wall Street Journal that Google's access to Nest customer data will be just like "any other third party," and that "We’re not becoming part of the greater Google machine."

The greater Google machine. Sounds ominous, doesn't it? And Mr. Rogers wants to distance Nest from that machine, despite the complete lack of distance it actually has. It's like he knows it's creepy.

Or maybe I'm reading too much into it and projecting my own concerns about being Google's product onto the situation.

To me, though, this seals the deal on not ever being a Nest customer. It took less than six months for the pretend wall between Nest and Google to disappear, and at some point it will be be gone in its entirety. The idea that Nest was able to locally learn my habits was one thing—Google knowing I am heading home and turning up the heat for me is another.

Of course, if you're an Android user, Google already knows when you're home. And at work. And are likely to head down to the local card room to play some poker. Google Now recently began telling a friend of mine where he had parked the car the night before when he left the house in the morning. Useful, but disturbing.

Knowing everything about you is already something Google does better than even the NSA—I don't need Nest adding to that ability.

What I want is a company who can offer me similar functionality without me becoming the product. I hope that Apple's HomeKit becomes that, but if not, I'd rather live in a dumb house.