Nest’s new API puts smart devices and developers under one roof
Yesterday, Nest announced the Nest Developer Program that will offer an application development interface, or API, so that third-party apps can hook up with Nest products. The new API is designed to open up Nest’s platform and allow it to talk to a myriad of other connected devices from smart watches to smart thermostats.
Nest celebrates a wide diversity of devices listed on the Works With Nest web page. Google and Nest have partnered with Mercedes-Benz, LIFX light bulbs, Jawbone wristbands, Whirlpool washers and dryers, and Chamberlain garage doors.
Each of these devices send and receive information to the Nest platform when users or the environment interact with them. Likely scenarios that developers might code for include having events propagate through a house when the owner returns home for the day—the garage door would indicate being opened, the system could detect the wristband or car identity, and trigger a particular profile of events. Such a profile could include popping up a list of shows or music on the TV, changing the thermostat to a desired temperature, lighting certain portions of the house, or any number of “just got home” presets.
The API also gives developers access to alerts such as the obvious smoke and CO alerts (for home emergencies) and peak energy rush hour events.
Developers for local power companies could make use of Nest’s API to coordinate energy intensive activities around peak energy usage times. It could also be used to exchange information about power expectations with the power company to help homeowners control costs, while giving the power company a little more data to optimize its own power delivery.
According to Nest senior product manager Greg Hu, Google will also be integrating with Nest just like any other third-party developer and use the Nest API. Google bought Nest for $3.2 billion in June, but won’t get special preference.
“The program lets any connected platform integrate with Nest,” Hu says.
Customers may prepare themselves to walk around the house talking to their appliances one Google developers get going. “OK Google, start the dishwasher.”
Nest API stresses user privacy
One huge bugbear of any connected system is that the information it gathers is essentially further surveillance and recording of everyday personal activities. Nest is no exception and provides a set of security tools as well as contractual rules for third parties to connect to the system.
Not only can Nest revoke access to companies who partner with the system for violations, but users of the Nest system have access to disconnect any integration at any time.
All Nest connections use SSL, which means that all communications between Nest and third parties is always encrypted.
Ideally customers will be able to examine Nest connected applications to make certain that smart devices are revealing as little information as possible and developers will ask only for the bare minimum to make apps function.
Developer tools and support
The Nest Developer Program isn’t simply an open API, it’s an entire ecosystem designed to draw in and support developers. Along with the announcement, Nest provides full documentation of the developer library and an API reference. If developers have further questions, the documentation directs to the Nest-API Stack Overflow community, which is already filling up with questions.
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