In the smart home world, there are two brands you hear a lot about: Google Home and Nest. Both are actually owned by Google, but how the company uses these names has led to some confusion.
A brief history of Nest Labs
Nest Labs exploded on stage back in 2011, when it introduced the Nest Learning Thermostat. This was a revolutionary device, and it was the first time anyone was really happy about thermostats. The original Nest thermostat was a driving force in the rapid development of the smart home.
A few years later, the company branched out with Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. In 2014, Nest was acquired by Google. The company then operated independently of Google as a subsidiary of Alphabet, Inc.
RELATED: How to set up and install Nest Protect Smart Smoke Alarm
Shortly after that, Nest made its own acquisition: Dropcam. The company then added security cameras to its growing range of smart home products.
Nest remained separate from Google until 2018, when it was finally merged with Google’s hardware division. The goal of the merger was tighter integration with Google’s smart home devices and Google Assistant.
And that’s where things started to get messy.
While Nest released its own branded devices, Google launched smart speakers and screens in its Google Home line. The original Google Home speaker was launched in 2016, followed by the mega-popular Google Home Mini.
After Google and Nest merged, Google named the Google Home Hub Google Stay Hub. It also announced that Google Nest would be the new brand for its smart home products. Confused yet? It’s getting worse.
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The original Google Home speaker was also launched with a name. The Google Cast app, which was a companion to Chromecast devices, was renamed Google Home. That name has remained, even though the physical units are no longer marked as such.
Together, but separate
Google is trying to merge the two brands under a vision for home products, but the company still has some degrees of separation. For example, nest.com is still running for customers to interact with security cameras and thermostats. However, customers who want to buy hardware are redirected to the Google Store.
Even more confusing are the Nest mobile apps. You still need to use the Nest app to set up a Nest thermostat or camera. However, Nest speakers and smart screens require you to use the Google Home app.
Google tries to make it sound like this is a big product family, but in practice it is not. It just does not make much sense that you can not use the Nest app to set up the Google Nest Hub, or that your Google Nest thermostat uses an app other than the Google Nest speaker.
What does everything mean?
If you look past the names, these products are still clearly in two different bins. All you have to do is look at the logos on the devices. They can be sold in the same section of the Google Store, but some have the Nest logo, while others have Google.
It will take some time to clean up this brand. Eventually, the old Nest products (thermostats, cameras, and so on) will be replaced by newer models with Google’s logos. Customers no longer need the Nest app.
Until then, however, these products clearly exist on two different platforms, despite Google’s attempts to spread them along with a name change.
Of course, this was not the first time Google made a confusing naming decision, and it will probably not be the last.