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“Hey Google” Smart Home Virtual Summit Promises Tighter Google Assistant Integration for Nest Devices

Google’s vision of future smart homes is centered on making Google Assistant part of more devices and easier for users to access, based on the new features showcased at the “Hey Google” Smart Home Virtual Summit. A replacement for I/O and other in-person conferences canceled due to the COVID-19 health crisis, the virtual summit marked the official reveal of new aspects of Google’s smart home ecosystem, including the voice assistant and Nest brand.

Google Home

For consumers, the smart home updates will be most visible when the Android 11 operating system comes out later in 2020. Android 11 will have a section specifically for controlling smart home devices. Users can pick whichever device controls they want to include in the menu and can access Google Assistant-controlled devices in the power menu. Google Assistant will also be able to automatically run different routines depending on whether there are people home. This was already a feature for Nest, but will now be an element of Google Assistant, relying on “presence detection” tech to decide whether to run the routines set up on devices for when everyone is away. The makers of smart devices will be a part of those routines soon when they will be able to create and suggest customized routines to users. The custom routines will be applicable not only to the manufacturer’s devices, but the developer will be able to suggest other devices the routines can work with that may already be in the home.

And there may be a lot more devices controllable with Google Assistant and able to run routines soon. Google announced that it would open up the Smart Home for Entertainment Device (SHED) API to any developer who wants to integrate Google Assistant into a smart TV, video game console, or set-top box. SHED debuted last year but was limited to certain brands that partnered with Google, such as Roku and LG. By extending the API to any developer, the number and variety of entertainment devices that Google Assistant can potentially access has instantly grown enormously.

“To create a helpful home experience, we have focused on foundational features necessary to make it easier for people to manage their smart devices. But as people spend more and more time at home during these challenging times, it’s important that we invest in more ways to work with developers to build a more useful connected home,” Google Nest director of product and smart home ecosystem Michele Turner wrote in a blog post. “As many of us continue to stay home, smart devices are being used a lot more. With the biggest growth coming from entertainment devices, we’re increasing our support in this area with our Smart Home API.”

Assisting AI

The new features are more developer-oriented than for consumers, with a raft of new analytics and incentive offers to build in the Google smart home ecosystem. It does match with the previous leaks about documentation for new doorbells and laundry appliances supported by Google Assistant. The expanded universe of new potential devices will also mesh well with the recently revamped Nest Aware subscription service and native support for sensors like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. The company also recently enhanced the setup process for Voice Match to make it more secure and accurate and adding it to all compatible devices. Google has even begun a pilot program that augments voice-enabled purchases with Voice Match. All of those elements will be a boon for those buying smart home devices with Google Assistant as the controlling AI.

“Our Smart Home efforts have grown significantly over the past several years,” Turner wrote. “We now have integrations with thousands of partners covering all the major connected product categories and devices, and will continue our ambitious goal to build deeper in-home integrations.”


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