Google Kills off Nest Security Ecosystem

I’ve been a happy customer of the “Nest” company since a few Apple engineers went off on their own to develop the Nest Thermostat many years ago. Many equally innovative products followed: e.g., smoke detectors that talked to you and told you where your fire was while shutting off Wi-Fi enabled gas burning appliances, AND calling you up on your phone to tell you about the problem. The most recent category of home automation addressed by these guys is the remarkable D-I-Y Nest Security System that is SO easy to install and maintain.

But then, Google bought Nest. Within a year, all of Nest’s products disappeared from Apple Retail and online stores. THEN, Google either bought or invested in ADT, and refocused its look at its security SYSTEM customers, no longer considering them product customers but rather imprisoned ADT monitoring subscribers.

We’re now perilously close to that precipice. Google has informed us that, come April 8, it will somehow remotely “brick” all our Nest Security Systems (which many of us would be happy to live with even if the only remaining “monitoring” were the system’s embedded ability to monitor our OWN properties over the internet via our Wi-Fi connections to our home Nest Guard or Nest Secure CPUs. Google (and to be fair) Nest engineers never told us they could shut the whole thing down whenever they chose to do so—that is, until they decided to DO it, dangling a rotten carrot in front of the stick they’re using to force us to spend more money. They’ll send us a “FREE” replacement system that could be used to “protect” the front and back flaps of a pup-tent, or if we don’t like that, send us a coupon worth $200 on Google hardware products (but only if they’re not on sale). To me and a small band of fellow complainers that Google has feared so little that they permit us to make our case on their own forum, this MUST be illegal.

I’ve been a successful claimant in two widely known class action cases that trumpeted corporate greed: the VW-Audi “clean diesel” DieselGate fraud circa 2015, and the PG&E-caused California urban/suburban firestorms later in the same decade. I’ve petitioned claimant law firms that obtained fair compensation for victims in both of those cases, but I’ve been totally unsuccessful in interesting them in this battle.

People on Google’s customer forums have started a “Petition” to demand that Google not proceed with this, and some have suggested we all appeal to our states’ Attorneys General, but as a non-lawyer it seems obvious to me that if there IS predatory and illegal activity here, it falls under the definition of interstate commerce and should not be litigated by little bands of DIYers in multiple separate state court systems.

The “end” is nigh (April 8), and I’ve become quite pessimistic about our ability to keep our DIY systems working after April 8, so in addition to asking here whether anyone has suggestions regarding what hand-carved wooden spears we could deploy against Google’s thermonuclear-class attorneys, I’m wondering what recommendations other members of the Tidbits community might have for self-installed, self-monitored security systems that replicate the features already available to Nest Security/Home Management Systems but which will disappear just 3 months from now.

Admittedly, some of those “goodies” come from the thermostat, not the security system, such as the ability to reduce heating/cooling costs from half-way 'round the world once you realize you’d forgotten to turn down the home temperature when you left Montana for Arizona in December. But here are a few:

Retire for the night with your home “perimeter armed,” but decide, from your third floor bedroom that it’s cooled off enough that you can open your bedroom window(s); no problem—just press the buttons on whichever bedroom window portal(s) Nest Detects you choose, disabling just those individual open/closed monitors while keeping everything else armed.

Or: you’d like some way to wander to the kitchen or bathroom at 3 am without disturbing anyone else; again, no problem—just program your “Nest Detects” to use their motion-sensing capability to turn on “path lighting” in their immediate vicinity as you approach, then turn it off again as soon as you’re back away from them.

Or: you’re hosting a back-yard barbecue. Yes, the cluster of cars in your driveway and spilling out onto the street in front of your house AND the noise from the back patio and lawn announce you’re probably paying little attention to the front door. Just set perimeter arming but tell the Nest Detect at your patio door that you want it off for now.

Or, you leave home and forget to arm the system. Just 3 taps on your iPhone screen solves that. Or the converse: you forgot to tell your extended family members who have keys to your house that when you left for that week-long trip during which they’re going to feed your pups that you changed your Nest Security Code last month? Again, no problem. You’re alerted immediately when they enter and set off the alarm, so you disable it immediately from your phone even before they have a chance to call you.

Oh, and that “System” that Google is offering for free? Come home in the dark and need to disarm? The keypad doesn’t light up to help you; the keypad keys aren’t even raised so you can use fingertip memory to turn off the “system” guarding your tent flaps (or one flap and one window). And, of COURSE you won’t have a key fob to just rest on the keypad to turn it off!

Philips has just recently entered this space, but its portal monitors are FAR more expensive AND less capable than were the Nest Detects (for example, they don’t combine motion sensing with portal status monitoring, and they can’t turn on path lighting).

Perhaps the new multi-platform home automation platform alliance will permits some combination of companies to replicate what Nest has offered for many years and is now canceling, but if so, I’m unaware of what those components might be.

And, as far as Google “warning” its customers that the Nest Security System will be no more being sufficient to make it “not guilty” of marketing fraud, in my view Google’s behavior is no different from sending a competitor or a neighbor a letter announcing that you are planning to murder them or steal their car on some specific identified date in the future. It would still be illegal.

Honestly, this is why I stopped investing in Nest products as soon as Google bought them. Google has a long and consistent track record of buying up small companies that have a successful product, letting the product stagnate for a few years, then gutting it or completely discontinuing it. (The one that ticks me off the most is still Songza.) If you have a successful startup, the absolute worst thing you can do to it is sell it to Google.

I still use my Nest thermostat (in fact, I switched back to it after being heavily dissatisfied with the ecobee that our HVAC contractor gave us as a freebie when we replaced our AC and furnace last summer), but I’ve never converted it to a Google account, and never will unless I can’t use it without doing so. And even then I’m not sure I would, because I like having my home not connected directly to Google. Of all the FAANG-level companies, I trust them the least.

1 Like

I definitely sympathize, but aside from the specific models impacted and programs like “Works with Nest,” this isn’t the first time cloud-connected “smart” security systems have been disabled by their providers after the providers decided to move on to newer generations of products. I haven’t followed Nest closely, but I seem to recall this isn’t the first time for them, though maybe I am thinking of Ring.

The bottom line is that the operating model for just about any “smart” device is that “users” only buy licenses to use the devices (or the software that delivers the core functionality), not so much the devices themselves, and the licenses generally allow the provider to terminate service at will.

Unfortunately, it is becoming harder and harder to buy “dumb” devices. A pity, because hardware will often last many years longer than a company is willing to support its software.


And it must be said that Google is not the only mass market tech company engaging in accelerated hardware and software obsolescence. I’d say it’s a risk that must be factored into pretty much every gadget, accessory, and computer purchase.


There’s a HUGE difference between changing processors and making coding tools obsolete in the process, or withdrawing support for something like routers or printers or modems and Google’s reach out and steal tactic of sending a code over the internet to brick your devices so all of a sudden they become useless.

There are still people doing useful things on 1980s generation Macintoshes.

1 Like

What to replace Nest with? I don’t have a concrete answer. I use a combination of SimpliSafe (connected to HomeKit via Homebridge) and Hue motion sensors to do similar things to what you describe via HomeKit automations.

Thank you for the first concrete suggestion I’ve received. I’ve recently become aware that Hue has started marketing portal sensors. I didn’t know until recently that Hue ALREADY made motion sensors. Perhaps they’ve not made combined purpose sensors out of fear of patent protection action by Google Nest. It would be fitting if Hue became able to market such products thanks to Google’s assassination of one of its own product lines!

May I ask if you make whisky? (your user handle)

I live very close to where whisky is made :slight_smile:
I like to think I am in quality control…


My own knowledge is limited to knowing that the absence of a second syllable “e” means it came from Scotland, and from possession of an (opened) bottle of 15 yo Glenlivet acquired last summer as my sister, son, and I motored along the paved sheeps’ paths the Scots call “roads” in an enormous rented Mercedes SUV too broad abeam even for the “passing places,” so failed to navigate our journey from Culloden to Glenlivet in time to make our ticketed tour of the distillery. The bottle will be donated this month to our local Burns Night celebration.

1 Like

Off topic, but mostly true. Really it’s only Ireland and the US that typically use the “e” before the y. Japan, India, Canada typically also spell it whisky. (I’m a single malt scotch whisky fan who doesn’t live close but maybe that’s a good thing.)

Back on topic, I never installed a security system with my Nest products (five thermostats and 12 Protects in two houses) , but I have installed a couple of cameras and the then two doorbell cameras. What is super-annoying is that one doorbell and one camera can be used with the Nest app, but one camera and one doorbell can only be used with the Google Home app. And the Nest app allows a bit more powerful scheduling compared with the Home app. All products can be seen in the Home app, but it’s so feature-poor that I won’t use it for programming anything that can be done in the Nest app.

The nest thermostats are fantastic, the nest protects are even better - one of my favorite pieces of tech when you compare them with replacement products. I hope that Google doesn’t abandon either of those products,

As for the cameras, they are fine, but I also have tried a couple of HomeKit cameras, and they are so much worse. I actually have to plug one of the HomeKit cameras into a smart plug because it frequently just gets disconnected from HomeKit and the only way to solve it is to power cycle the camera.

I don’t use a security system at all but I agree it’s too bad that Google decided to abandon theirs.

@jsrnephdoc you built a really cool system. I continue to be astonished at what people do with the various tech we can buy.

Have you looked into Home Assistant? Perhaps there is already open source software enabled for your sensors so you don’t lose their use. Check out the Integrations section and look at Sensors.

I presume that will also lead to some questions about licenses and if you can use the hardware device you own with other software. But if the product is abandoned, then will the supplier care?

And off topic - In Canada, we just call the libation “Scotch” with the “whisky” implied. And … we call “Bourbon” the corn mash whisky from the US and “Rye” is the rye based whisky from Canada. :thinking: :joy:

All the messages I get from Google explicitly warn me that they will remotely “kill” all my sensors and the Nest Guard CPU on April 8. If we get close to that date with no hope of a delay of death sentence, I’ll try to eliminate my Nest Guard’s connection to the internet, but I doubt I’ll be successful

For the most part, I agree. I purchased my first “Nest Protect” when they were first introduced; at the time they required six Lithium cells sized the same as AA alkaline cylinders (there were no a/c powered units available). I bought 4 more to replace the others when a/c powered Nest Protects became available, but left the first one in service near my front door. I thought I’d obliterated the useless chirping warning emitted by the standard “dumb” smoke detectors. However, about 2 years after my first installation, chirping reoccured. Turned out it came, NOT from the Nest Protect, but from a “dumb” carbon monoxide detector low on the wall nearest my first Nest Protect. However, while trying to scope out that issue, I did take the battery powered Nest Protect off my ceiling to do a voltage check on each of those Li+ cells. The first 5 checked out, but the sixth was deep within the disk, and when I finally reached it, it was SO hot that I feared it might itself catch fire.

I called Nest. They said they’d send me a replacement, free, but wanted to inspect my possibly defective unit. When I asked if they wanted me to ship th overheated battery to them they expressed panic and said something like “Oh, my God, NO.” When I suggested they should replace my battery powered unit with an a/c powered unit they answered their only option was to replace "like with like.” I countered that I was uncomfortable with receiving a replacement that might itself burn down my house. Finally we agreed that they’d send me a check for the original purchase amount that I could take to a retail outlet and purchase a new a/c powered unit myself.

I also had one real-world test. One day while I was at work, my spouse left something on the stovtop too long. My first alert was a text message, followed almost immediately by a phone call from my spouse. When I answered, she greeted me with panic in her voice. In the background, I could hear at least two of my Nest Detects announcing the presence of smoke AND its location in the house. My wife had extinguished the small stovetop fire, and the Nest Protects soon began acknowledging that in the background, repeating “the smoke is clearing” or something akin to that.

Were you a lead plantiff in either of those class action suits or were your claims filed for a share of the payments after the companies agreed on a settlement/penalty?

I have no idea why that’s relevant to this discussion. I’m citing two examples of class actions where I believe the outcomes were reasonably successful for the injured parties (and, in “Dieselgate,” perhaps for the planet as well), and using them to illustrate what can go wrong because of corporate greed and how the class action process can right some wrongs.

No, I did not discover the fraud committed by VW/Audi (in fact, the grad students and their mentor at WV University were so puzzled by their discovery that they basically turned over the investigation to California’s Air Resources Board). But without some half million deceived vehicle purchasers being made at least “partially whole” (if that’s possible), or the vast majority of the aggrieved class in the California Firestorms (except for those who DIED, needlessly and tragically, because of PG&E’s failure to maintain their infrastructure), the warnings to big business not to treat their customers with such little respect would have carried far less weight.

Again, I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make. The very fact that I’m looking for someone to take on Google in this matter should make it clear what my position is. One inference one could make from your question is that the spoils of victory should go solely to the attorneys, which I sincerely hope is not your position. Certainly it’s true that the victims in each case were made aware of the possibility of compensation after a preliminary settlement was reached, but I find nothing ignoble in that.

I do not have any agenda or conflicts of interest here. I was simply interested in more detail on which sort of “successful claimant” you were in the two class action suits you mentioned. A lead plantiff’s role is very different from a share-of-settlement-participant’s role.

1 Like

My apologies. On an Apple ecosystem email listserv, I’m currently a participant in a thread about how precision in typography is sometimes important as far as precision in communications is concerned.

In both of the successful class actions I mentioned on background, the share-of-settlement “participants” were generally referred to as “claimants,” and in the suit against PG&E regarding the Tubbs and other wildfires, most claimants had (or still have pending) more than one claim. The Trust Fund created and funded by PG&E was capped at a certain initial value. I don’t remember what the date of settlement was, but at that moment PG&E’s obligation was to fund it to the tune of $14.3 billion. At the time the suit was filed, PG&E’s “defense” against responsibility was to claim it could not afford to pay the victims, and it entered bankruptcy. The California State Public Utility Commission pretty quickly called PG&E’s bluff, noted that PG&E had done exceedingly well over many decades as a regulated monopoly and made it clear the state government could probably do pretty well providing that gas and electricity to its citizens just by dissolving PG&E as a privately held company and assuming that responsibility itself. The utility realized quickly that the state was not bluffing (as PG&E was), resulting in the $14.3 billion “trust funding” settlement. Most claimants were pretty surprised and happy with that, but PG&E had one more card to play. It didn’t fund the settlement solely from cash reserves (or even from rate increases). It agreed to exit bankruptcy as part of the settlement, and THEN it won the right to fund almost a third of its settlement trust responsibility with new PG&E common stock. We claimants were horrified by that, because now we were all aggregate shareholders in the company that had, in effect, just burned down our houses. (A weak analogy might be a family, one of whose children had been murdered or severely injury by an evil or reckless individual, and because of that corrupt or careless behavior, a previous stay-at-home parent was forced to take a full-time job, and the legal “rectification” of the criminal behavior included compiling the perpetrator to provide in-home child care for the parents’ children)!.

Few of us were (or are) wealthy investors, and I think a common assumption was that PG&E’s reckless behavior would continue and its stock value would plummet. In fact, the stock did well enough to GROW the value of the trust as the trustees gradually sold stock to play claims. Still, we’re now approaching the SEVENTH anniversary of the fire, and many claims are still unpaid, because the trust is compelled to make certain that EVERY claim is paid to the same percentage of its determined value. The Trustee knows that the aggregate (and still marrket-fluctuating) value of the trust is inadequate to pay all claims to 100% of their actual value; most have been paid to the 60% level, and the Trustee HOPES to finish paying all of them to somewhere around 70% of actual value during 2014, but its task is Herculean; one of my sons lost a vinyl record collection worth <$500, stored in his mom’s garage. A an elderly neighbor lost her LIFE because she didn’t know how to escape from her garage in her car once the power went out (in a sense, meaning PG&E was separately responsible for destroying her home, then for killing her). How does anyone pretend to evaluate the worth of a recorded collection of 60s folk music as compared to the future value of an individual life???

I read this thread yesterday. I do not own any IOT devices, nor any kind of smart home device, and I read it because of interest in Google’s ability to destroy the functionality of something purchased and owned.
Today Amazon delivered me a couple of LPs, and I went online to archive the order. I see all the adverts Amazon is showing about ‘products for you’ are smart home devices. So much for “Don’t Track”!

I wasn’t sure where the discussion of the class-action suits was going until now, but let’s drop that and stay on the topic of Nest.

Adam, it was not my intent to lead the topic astray, but I used other successful actions as a backdrop to my inability to understand why it’s not something that’s happening in this instance. Is it JUST because Google is correct that no one cares or wants to take them on, or is there some logic or legality that makes what the oompany is doing at least legal, if not ethical (in other words I’ll shut up immediately if an informed opinion that Google’s behavior really IS legal is supported by discussion here.