Google Nest and Samsung SmartThings devices to work together fully, at last
Google Nest and Samsung SmartThings have agreed to start playing nice, after years of being largely incompatible, rival systems. As two of the largest ecosystems for smart home, closer cooperation between the two is a massive step in breaking down the fragmentation that has built up as thousands of companies attempt to make their eco-system “the one”.
From January 2021, you will (finally) be able to add and control Nest devices, including cameras, thermostats, and doorbells to the SmartThings app. You’ll also be able to include them in “scenes”. This is a particularly big deal, as Google Nest devices have a very limited repertoire in the equivalent “routines” feature. Better still, you’ll also be able to access camera feeds from Nest cameras through Samsung Smart TVs and (if you really insist) fridges.
It’s not all one-way traffic. The deal also means that users of Google Home devices will be able to control SmartThings devices fully. Although integration between the two has been available for a while, it’s been very limited to basic on/off functionality and camera streaming. Under the terms of the new collaboration, this will expand to full functionality where possible. If you’re a developer, you can find out how to set up your devices for this at this link.
As Google explains in its blog post, this is just the beginning. We’ve already seen the arrival of Google Assistant on 2020’s Samsung Smart TVs and the company has said it will bring Google Nest compatibility to even more devices in 2021. Google has already begun to streamline the process for linking Google and Samsung accounts across apps in the ecosystem. In addition, Samsung devices can now be controlled by users in Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Japanese, and, as you’d expect for a Seoul-based company, Korean. Google has also announced that the ‘Devices’ dashboard that we welcomed in Android 11 will be coming to ‘Samsung’s new Galaxy smartphones’ by which we assume they mean the imminent Samsung Galaxy S21 range.
Reading between the lines, as well as being great news for the consumer, it does tell us a little bit about how things are at Samsung. We’ve long suspected that the company’s Bixby Voice Assistant was a white-elephant-in-waiting. Despite the company’s determination to bundle it with its products, the lure of Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple Siri has meant that it never really took off. After the earlier Smart TV announcement, it was clear that Samsung’s stance was beginning to shift.
It’s been clear since the smart home first became mass-market, around 2014, that the number of competing ecosystems (Zigbee, Z-Wave, BLE, WiFi, Thread, KNX, etc) was unsustainable. Sometime in 2021, a group made up of Amazon, Google and the Zigbee Alliance (of which Samsung is a member) will roll out a complete, unified, open-source standard for smart home devices. The interoperability of Samsung SmartThings and Google Assistant is one step closer to realising that dream.