Google and acquisition company Nest have merged to create a unified brand, but along with this unification comes a consolidation of development projects. To this end, Google has decided to kill the Nest smartwatch app on its own Wear OS wearables platform and WatchOS, Apple’s wearables platform for the Apple Watch. Version 5.37 of the Nest smartwatch app deprecates the wearable apps on both platforms.
Google’s reasoning as to why it decided to do away with a smartwatch app that made smart home functions convenient from the wrist, was that it found only a small number of users who had Nest units in the home as well as wearables connected to them through the apps, were actually using the apps to control their thermostats, and so it decided to get rid of the apps entirely as the vast majority of users were interacting with the thermostats through voice. Google did also state “Moving forward our team will spend more time focusing on delivering high quality experiences through mobile apps and voice interactions.”
What Google says here is that only a few people were using it, so it doesn’t see the need to continue developing a smartwatch app that few users have adopted. It makes more sense (financially, to Google) to develop mobile apps and voice interactions, two trending fields to which mobile users have taken a liking. Google is doing this to cut costs, taking money spent on developing the Nest smartwatch app and placing it in other things that are bound to bring in a greater user base and greater profit in the long run.
Google says that customers who want to keep up with their Nest products still have basic notifications on Wear OS. Wear OS users can control their Nest thermostat with Google Assistant, Google says, though Apple Watch (or WatchOS) users are out of luck. Both Wear OS and Apple Watch users will still be able to use the Nest mobile app on Android and iOS for notifications. WatchOS or Apple Watch users stand to lose the most, though many Apple Watch users may simply go the “HomeKit” route instead.
Companies often cut apps and services when user adoption is low, but Google’s decision to cut the Nest smartwatch app may seem to be a bit out of step, however. Wearable adoption is on the rise, with the IDC reporting that the smartwatch market grew 55.2 percent in Q4 2018 as compared to Q4 2017.
As for home automation, speakers remain the largest home automation product purchase for customers, according to research firm Park & Associates. Home security cameras are another hot investment for homeowners looking to have greater protection and a more watchful eye when they’re away. Acumen Research and Consulting says that over the next seven years between 2019 and 2026, the home automation market could grow 7% to reach a market value of around $65 billion.
In a few years, the Nest smartwatch app may prove to be a missed opportunity here. Google could bring the Nest smartwatch app back once wearable apps prove to be more trendy and popular than they are currently. At the moment, though, Google figures that with such a small smartwatch user base, and with most home automation buyers preferring the mobile experience on smartphones to smartwatches, its decision is keeping in-step with the times and good financial strategy rather than cutting-edge, forward thinking.