Signal boost: Google Wifi and Nest Wifi just got better

Lately, our homes have become busier than ever–we work, attend classes, enjoy entertainment from movies to video games and even exercise right in our living rooms. This means our Wi-Fi needs to be dependable and strong, and keep us covered in any room of the home. To make sure more people can have the Wi-Fi coverage that they need, we’re reducing the price of Google Wifi. You can now get a 3-pack for $199, which covers homes up to 4,500 square feet. A 1-pack is $99 and covers homes up to 1,500 square feet. 

Broadband consumption during traditional work hours went up more than 41 percent in March of this year. This means that internet service provider networks are increasingly congested, leading to general internet slowdowns and buffering on your video calls. In my house, just like many of us, my whole family puts our home network through its paces; it’s not uncommon for me to be on a video call with work while my daughter is also one one for class and my wife is doing the same with family and friends. With so many people online at once, getting the best performance out of your internet is critical.

To help address some of these challenges, we’re also making some updates to all Google Wifi and Nest Wifi systems. With new device notifications, you’ll get an alert in the Google Home app whenever a new device joins your network. And, we’re reducing network delays and improving network performance to help you avoid congestion when multiple devices are online. We’re also continuing to improve your connection even if your Internet service provider’s network is slow. 

We’re rolling out these updates starting today. With so many of us spending more time at home, we hope that these improvements help make things a little easier

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A partnership with ADT for smarter home security

Today, we’re announcing a long-term, strategic partnership between Google and ADT, a leading U.S. security and home automation provider. Together, we aim to create the next generation of the helpful home—based on new security solutions that will better protect and connect people to their homes and families.

Devices and services

Google will combine its Nest devices, services and technology with ADT’s leadership position providing security solutions for millions of homes and small businesses in the U.S. The partnership pairs more than 20,000 ADT professionals together with Nest’s portfolio of helpful home devices. The company’s network of thousands of professional technicians will be able to sell and install devices like Nest Cameras and Nest Hub Max, all powered by Google Assistant.

Over time, Nest’s devices, powered by Google’s machine learning capabilities will enhance ADT’s security monitoring and become the cornerstone of ADT’s smart home offering. The goal is to give customers fewer false alarms, more ways to receive alarm events, and better detection of potential incidents inside and around the home. It will also provide people with more helpful notifications that make everyday life more convenient, like package detection. ADT customers will also have access to Nest Aware, a service that keeps people informed about important events at home, including intelligent alerts and event history recording for up to 30 days.

An equity investment in ADT

As part of this multi-year partnership, Google will make a $450 million investment in ADT in exchange for shares of a newly created Class B common stock having all the rights and preferences of ADT’s common stock except for the right to vote on the election, appointment or removal of directors. Upon the closing of Google’s equity investment in ADT, Google will own approximately 6.6 percent of ADT’s outstanding aggregate common equity. Google’s equity investment, which is subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to close in the third quarter of 2020. 

These investments show our collective commitment to evolve security through better technology and innovation. Together with ADT, we look forward to delivering a smarter, more secure and helpful home.

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A new way to save this summer with Nest thermostats

Warm evenings, backyard barbeques and sticky watermelon fingers mean two things for my family: Summer is finally here and the air conditioning is running. As the days get longer and temperatures rise, so does my energy bill. 

Thankfully, Nest thermostats can help me save energy automatically. As of today, we’re announcing our Seasonal Savings feature will be available for free. Seasonal Savings isn’t the only Nest thermostat tool that works in the background to save energy, and sometimes money. Here are a few ways you can benefit from using the device without having to lift a finger. 

1. Seasonal savings for all 

For the first time, this summer we’re making Seasonal Savings available to all Nest thermostat owners for free. Previously, this feature was only available to customers of utilities with Seasonal Savings programs. It acts like a personal energy monitor, making small schedule tweaks to help you save energy and lower your bill, without you even noticing. 

By adjusting your schedule just a fraction of a degree each day, users save energy while staying comfortable. These little changes can really add up—the average customer sees 3 to 5 percent in energy savings on their home’s heating and cooling systems. Collectively, if everyone participates, that’s millions of dollars saved.

Seasonal Savings is rolling out on all Nest thermostats in the U.S. and Canada (except Quebec) starting this month. If you have a Nest Thermostat, you’ll see a notification on your device and in the Nest app asking if you’d like to opt-in, and from there your thermostat will start helping you save energy.

2. Get rewards for saving

Just like traffic clogs up roads when everyone drives to work at the same time, energy “rush hours” happen when everyone in a certain area turns on their air conditioning at once. When there’s a peak in energy demand, it makes providing energy more expensive, less reliable, and less environmentally friendly for energy companies.  So, many energy companies work with Nest to offer Rush Hour Rewards.  When you sign up, your Nest thermostat will make changes to the temperature in your home on a handful of those peak energy usage afternoons during the summer. This lowers the demand while still keeping you comfortable. The icing on the cake: Energy providers pay users  for signing up.

3. Clearing the air (filter)

Dirty or clogged air filters can affect your heating and cooling system’s efficiency, making your system work harder to move air through your home and using more energy. Personally, air filters aren’t high on my priority list and I often forget to change them. This is why your Nest thermostat can help you remember when it’s time to change the filter with a Filter Reminder, tracking the last time you changed it and showing you reminders on your thermostat when it’s time to switch it out. 

4. Leave it to the Leaf 

The Nest Leaf icon appears on your Nest thermostat display or in the Nest app when you choose an energy-saving temperature. The temperatures that earn a Leaf will depend on your temperature preferences, your home and your schedule. When you follow the Leaf, you know you’re saving energy. 

5. Waste not, want not

The Nest thermostat can use its sensors and, if you opt in, your phone’s location, to check if you’ve left the house. It can then automatically adjust the temperature, so you don’t waste energy cooling an empty home. Then when you come back, your thermostat will readjust to your preferred setting.

So sit back, relax and let your Nest thermostat get to work helping you save this summer.

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Wi-Fi woes got you down? Google Nest is here to help

As the product lead for connectivity at Google Nest, I’m a complete Wi-Fi geek. I love helping people solve their home Wi-Fi problems and get the most out of their routers—and that includes my own family. I have two teenage sons attending high school remotely, while I’m currently working from my dining table. Suffice it to say I’m a fan of anything that gives my home Wi-Fi a boost.

Luckily, we’re rolling out a software update to make both Nest Wifi and Google Wifi work even more smoothly today. This update will improve overall network performance on slow internet connections, which means your Wi-Fi will better support multiple video calls, gaming sessions and more simultaneously. It includes general security and stability improvements and will also improve device connection speeds on wireless networks and optimizations so your devices move to faster Wi-Fi radio channels. Our priority device feature is also getting smarter, so you can rest assured Wi-Fi traffic will be prioritized to the device you choose. This means you can make sure your work laptop is getting the strongest Wi-Fi available, as opposed to the kids’ YouTube sessions. And the best part is these updates will be pushed automatically, no action required on your end. 

Of course, no Wi-Fi is infallible, and I know how frustrating it can be when it isn’t working the way you expect. No matter what router you’re using, here are a few tips to help you troubleshoot: 

If your TV is always buffering:

Remove  barriers: If you’re still using an old black box router, don’t hide it in drawers or behind furniture – this compromises its usefulness and weakens your Wi-Fi signal. Metal (like a filing cabinet) and water (like an aquarium) are the biggest offenders.

Reboot your router: Most people are familiar with this tip, but don’t actually know why they’re doing it. If you’re noticing network congestion, rebooting  cleans up stale software buffers and forces the reconnection of your devices. 

Run a speed test: Is your problem your Wi-Fi range? Get close to your router and run a speed test, then try again from farther away. If it’s slower the second time, you may have a dead zone. If you can, try moving your router out into the open or closer to the potential dead zone to see if that helps. You can find a free speed test at speedtest.net

If the whole family is online at once:

Know how much speed you need: Most video calls require 5 Mbps of consistent speed, but the reality is a bit more nuanced.  Because you’re receiving video from the internet (download) and sending video as well (upload), you’ll want to make sure that your upload speed is a good, consistent 5 Mbps as well. Conduct a speed test during a busy time of day when you’ve had a bad video call. If you have less than 5 Mbps DL (downlink) or UL (uplink), you might consider placing a…

…Call to your Internet Service Provider: If it feels like your Wi-Fi gets bogged down during the work day, but otherwise works fine, your issue could be your ISP.  If you’ve already run a speed test and spent time rebooting your router and modem, it may be time to work with your ISP to solve the problem. If your ISP modem is really old, it might be time for an upgrade.  Buying one yourself rather than getting it from your ISP might save you up to $10 a month. Check your ISP’s website for compatible modems before you purchase one, then call your ISP to get it added to their network.

If your home has dead zones:

Upgrade your router: Especially if it’s more than five years old There were substantial changes in Wi-Fi standards in the U.S. back in 2015, allowing higher radio power and therefore better coverage from routers made in 2016 or later. 

Consider a mesh network: A mesh network is a group of routers (actually Wi-Fi access points) that wirelessly communicate with each other to create a single, connected Wi-Fi network over a large area. We created Nest Wifi as a mesh system because having multiple points work together to create a seamless, single network. While network strength varies depending on things like the size of your house and your ISP, the idea is that this system provides consistently strong coverage for all connected devices throughout your home. 

We all rely on Wi-Fi, and when it doesn’t work, it’s a source of frustration untold.  Hopefully these tips help keep you connected, whether you’re working, streaming, gaming or binge-watching.

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How the Nest Hub Max helps keep families connected

As a kid, I could navigate from my home to my grandparents’ house blindfolded—that walk remains muscle memory for me. My grandparents’ place was really my second home, nearly as familiar to me as my own. Today, my 92-year-old grandma, Mary-Jane (she prefers Marty), still lives in that house. She lives there alone, and although she has my parents and a few of my aunts and uncles nearby, COVID-19 has been extremely isolating for her. 

Despite protests she wouldn’t be able to figure out how to use it, I sent my grandma a Nest Hub Max. After getting her an old smartphone simply for setup purposes and helping her create a Google Duo account, I now get to actually see my grandma regularly while we’re in quarantine. “Oh, I love it,” she told me recently when I asked her how it was working out. It’s easier than clicking on a link to start a video chat on her laptop, and she likes that the Nest Hub Max stays in one place and that she can answer video calls with a simple tap. She’s even learned to ask Google Assistant to play Frank Sinatra, who’s always been one of her and my grandpa’s favorites. 

It’s important for seniors’ mental and emotional health to stay connected, and social isolation during this quarantine makes doing that especially hard. As I learned with my grandma, Nest Hub Max and Duo video calling can help keep us “together” while we’re apart. My family isn’t the only one that’s unable to be around our grandmother; seniors everywhere haven’t been able to have visitors or join others for social activities in recent months. To help make things a little easier, Google is giving nearly 1,000 Nest Hub Max devices to residents in seven Merrill Gardens retirement communities in Washington State —giving them a way to connect with family and friends. 

Bob Marum, one of the residents of Merrill Gardens, says he’s missed getting together with family and friends. “Talking on the phone is nice, but it’s nothing compared to chatting over coffee or a glass of wine.” He says the Nest Hub Max sounds like it will be “a tremendous addition. It would improve the liveliness of our life.”

In addition to providing Nest Hub Maxes, the Nest and Google Assistant teams wanted to make setup even easier for less tech-savvy users. The teams created a new experience that we’re kicking off with Merrill Gardens residents, where they will have access to a pre-loaded shortlist of contacts, making video calls even easier. There are new “What can you do?” cards, too, that act like shortcuts for showing weather reports, setting alarms or playing relaxing sounds. 

Merrill Garden.png

And all of this was done in a way that preserves privacy for the residents, as the devices are managed on Nest’s fleet management system and run in a “signed out” mode, meaning no audio is stored and all activity is anonymous. 

For my grandma, I think video calls are going to remain her favorite part of the Nest Hub Max. All she has to do is say, “Hey Google, call my favorite granddaughter on Duo” and just like that, I’ll be there. (I’m sure that’s how she has me listed in her contacts, right grandma?😉)

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5 things to know about the new Nest Aware

We’re all spending more time at home these days, and for many of us, that means investing time in our personal spaces and trying to check in on loved ones as much as possible. For Google Nest users, that’s getting a little easier: Starting this week, the new Nest Aware is rolling out to 19 markets. The subscription service is a helpful, affordable companion to all of your Google Nest devices whether you’re home or away. 

And even though many of us are home far more often right now, we have several features that make life at home a little easier. Here’s what to expect from the new Nest Aware:

  1. More affordable, simplified pricing. Instead of paying per camera, all of your devices per home—including your cameras, speakers and displays—are covered for one low price, even when you add a new device. For just $6 a month (or $60 for an annual subscription), the new Nest Aware comes with 30 days of event video history. Or, for those who want 24/7 video history, you can choose Nest Aware Plus for 60 days of event video history and 10 days of 24/7 video history for $12 per month (or $120 for an annual subscription).
  2. Get alerts that matter. With the new Nest Aware, now your devices will start recording event clips when they detect motion or sound and give you the clips you need to see. When something happens that needs your attention—like a package being delivered—we’ll send you an alert. If you prefer 24/7 continuous recording, for example, on your outdoor camera during the night, that’s also still available with Nest Aware Plus.
  3. Keep an eye on your home and quickly connect to emergency services.Now, your Nest speakers and displays will notify you if a critical sound is detected, like a smoke alarm or glass breaking, by sending an alert to the Home app. From there, you can hear an audio clip or listen live within the Home app to confirm the alarm, and the new Nest Aware gives you the option to call 911 emergency services straight from the Home app (U.S. only). Calling directly from your phone will connect you to the center nearest to you, which isn’t always helpful when you’re away. But calling from the Home app will give you the center closest to home, no matter where you are.
  4. Take care of loved ones. If your elderly parent or relative has a Nest Hub Max, not only can they stay in touch with loved ones through Duo video calling, but you can also look out for them with the new Nest Aware. All they have to do is invite you as a home member and enable their speaker or display, and you’ll get notifications if something needs your attention.
  5. Easily upgrade from old to new. If you already have an existing Nest Aware subscription, you can upgrade to the new version through the Google Store. Keep in mind that upgrading to the new Nest Aware requires that you migrate to a Google accountif you haven’t already. You also have the option to keep your current subscription if you choose.

In addition to rolling out the new Nest Aware, we’ve updated pricing for some of our products to make it even easier to bring more help into your home: Starting today, Nest Hub is available for $89.99 and Nest Cam Indoor is now $129.99. We hope the new Nest Aware helps you save a little more, care for your loved ones and know that all is well in the place you call home.

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50 billion reasons Nest is saying thank you this Earth Day

50 billion is a big number. It’s hard to comprehend something that enormous. But Nest Thermostat owners have saved over 50 billion kilowatt hours of energy since we first introduced the device. In honor of Earth Day on April 22, we at Google Nest want to say thank you for helping our planet. 

But again…we know: 50 billion of anything is a lot. We wanted to help give you some context about what 50 billion kilowatt hours of energy actually means.

nest earth day

Little things can make a big difference

All it takes are a few simple changes at home that we can all make to collectively have an impact. If you need help getting started, you can ask Google Assistant, “Hey Google, give me an Earth Day tip” for simple ways you can help do your part, like switching your monthly bills to paperless or turning off the water while brushing your teeth or doing dishes. You can also change the temperature on your Nest thermostat by just a few degrees until the leaf symbol pops up, so you know you’re saving energy. 

This Earth Day we want to make it easier for even more people to save energy, so we’re offering discounts on the Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Thermostat E starting today through April 29. It’s our small way of saying thank you.  

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More protection for Nest accounts

Privacy and security are foundational to Nest’s mission to create a more helpful home. When you invite our products into your home, you trust us to help you solve everyday problems—whether that’s saving on your monthly energy bills, keeping an eye on things when you’re away or helping you with life’s little challenges. You want to feel safe in your home, and making sure our devices add to that sense of security is a responsibility we take very seriously.

We’re always exploring how to protect your privacy and security while also giving you control over the ease of access to your account and what you share. After all, devices like cameras and smoke alarms are essential in emergencies. However, an extra layer of defense gives you more control over your home devices in the long run by making sure only trusted people and devices can use them. 

The best way to do this is by migrating to a Google account, which comes with lots of added benefits, including security protections like suspicious activity detection and Security Checkup. But for those who haven’t migrated yet, here are some new measures we’ve put in place to invest in keeping your Nest account secure.

An extra layer of protection

Two-factor authentication has long been available to all users as a way to prevent the wrong person from gaining access to your account, even if they have your username and password. Starting this spring, we’re requiring all Nest users who have not enrolled in this option or migrated to a Google account to take an extra step by verifying their identity via email. When a new login into your account is initiated, you’ll receive an email from account@nest.com with a six-digit verification code. That code will be used to make sure it’s you trying to login. Without it, you won’t be able to access your account. This will greatly reduce the likelihood of an unauthorized person gaining access to your Nest account.

Safeguarding from automated attacks

Automated attacks like credential stuffing are becoming more common. That’s when stolen information like email addresses and passwords used on other websites are repurposed to gain unauthorized access to an account or device. Google accounts come with added protection against this, and now we’re addressing this issue for those who haven’t migrated to Google accounts. Earlier this year we began applying a Google Cloud security technology called reCAPTCHA Enterprise to Nest accounts, which detects when an automated attack is attempted and reduces the likelihood of it being successful. This safeguard is already active and you didn’t have to do anything to enable it.

Know who and when someone logs into your account

Knowing when someone has logged into your account can be all it takes to spot something potentially suspicious. Back in December we rolled out login notifications to Nest accounts, so every time someone on your account logs in you’ll receive an email notification. That way if it wasn’t you, you can take action immediately.

Here are some additional protections that we’ve been using for a while to help keep your account secure:

  • When you supply a password for your Nest account, we check to see if that password was potentially exposed in previously-known credential breaches outside of Google.

  • We proactively reset accounts when we detect suspicious activity.

  • We use automatic updates, don’t allow default or easy-to-guess device passwords and verified boot, which prevents your devices from running malicious code.

And finally, we suggest everyone keep these best practices in mind for their Google Nest devices:

  • Migrate to a Google account. In addition to security features, Nest and Google product integrations will be streamlined and work together to create seamless experiences. For example, if you have a Nest Thermostat and a Google Home, just say, “Ok Google, make it warmer.”

  • Enable two-factor authentication whenever possible. Millions have enabled this feature on their Nest accounts.

  • If you have multiple people in your non-migrated Nest household who need access to your Nest devices, create a Family account so you don’t need to share your personal credentials with anyone. Remind them to sign up for two-factor authentication, too.

  • Use unique passwords for every account, change them occasionally and ask people you’ve added to your devices to do the same.

  • Rather than memorizing your passwords, use a password manager, like the one offered in the Chrome browser. Password managers store your passwords securely and some even generate complicated passwords for you.

  • Check on whether your passwords or accounts have been compromised using the new tool offered by Chrome; another great tool is haveibeenpwned.com. 

  • Avoid clicking on suspicious-looking emails and never provide personal information in response to them.

On Safer Internet Day and every day, we’ll continue to work hard to improve our devices and protect our users.

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Can your smart thermostat be smarter?

As a lifelong thermostat-turner-upper, I distinctly remember a day in high school when I made a beeline to crank the heat in my family home. Instead of the quiet rumble of the heater turning on, it was silent. I bundled myself in blankets and waited to tell my parents the news: We were going to freeze. Clearly I was being dramatic, but I remember my parents’ frustration nonetheless with the broken furnace. 

Not to date myself, but this was before smart thermostats existed. Our thermostat wasn’t tracking any minor issues that could become big ones, and it certainly couldn’t alert us about them. Fortunately, homes are getting smarter: Starting today we are testing a new Nest thermostat feature that can help alert you to some heating and cooling system (HVAC) issues. With this new feature, Nest is learning how to identify unusual patterns related to your HVAC system, and can alert you to a variety of potential issues. Most of us don’t have an HVAC pro on speed dial, so we’re also testing out the ability to help customers connect with a professional who can help, starting in select cities.

Get HVAC alerts

Based on information like your thermostat’s historical data and current weather, Nest will learn to detect some unusual HVAC patterns that might indicate something is wrong. If it’s taking longer than normal to heat your home, for example, there might be a problem with your heating system—even if you haven’t noticed anything. 

If your thermostat notices a potential issue we are testing, we’ll send you an email alert telling you what your thermostat noticed and which system (heating or cooling) may be having a problem. There will be issues that your thermostat won’t catch—but over time and through your feedback, Nest thermostats will get smarter and better at detecting more and more possible problems.

Book a pro

If you receive an HVAC email alert, you may want to have a professional take a look at your system. If a Nest Pro installed your thermostat or previously serviced your system and you want to hire them again, you can often find their contact information on your Nest thermostat or in the Nest app.

As part of this feature test, we are also partnering with Handy, a platform that connects qualified professionals with customers who need their services, to make it easy to find and book an HVAC pro with set pricing. Booking through Handy will initially be available in over 20 metro areas, including Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Las Vegas, and San Diego, and expand to additional regions throughout the testing period.

How do I get alerts?

Sign up to get your Nest Home Report, and you’ll automatically receive these new HVAC alert emails. You can also opt out of getting these HVAC alerts at any time. With this new thermostat feature, you now have more insight into your heating and cooling system, to help you look after your home. 

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Developing a standard for the smart home industry

Technology in everyday homes has evolved since the start of the decade. Almost every part of the home can be connected to the internet, allowing local or remote control of thermostats, cameras, locks, lights, switches, sensors, and even doggy doors. While smart home devices are abundant, the lack of an industry-wide connectivity standard leaves people confused and frustrated when trying to understand what devices work with each smart home ecosystem. It also places a heavy burden on manufacturers to make sure all devices are compatible with each other.

We’re joining Amazon, Apple and others to create Connected Home over IP, a new independent working group managed by the Zigbee Alliance (separate from the existing Zigbee 3.0/Pro protocol). Our goal is to bring together market-tested technologies to develop a new, open smart home connectivity standard based on Internet Protocol (IP). Google’s use of IP in home products dates back to the launch of Nest Learning Thermostat in 2011. IP also enables end-to-end, private and secure communication among smart devices, mobile apps, and cloud services. 

We’re contributing two of our market-tested and open-source smart home technologies, Weave and Thread. Both are built on IP and have been integrated into millions of homes around the world. Weave, an application protocol, works over many networks like Thread, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy, and even cellular. Even when devices are on different networks, Weave allows them all to securely work with each other.

Developers and consumers will benefit from this new universal smart home connectivity standard. For developers, it simplifies product development and reduces costs by giving them one standard for building their products. You will then have the power to choose how you want to control your homes, independent of which smart home technology you choose. Smart home devices will be compatible with various platforms, so you can choose between Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri or other platforms.  

We’re excited to partner with the industry on the next stage of growth for the thousands of smart home developers in our Works with Google Assistant program. This project brings us closer to the vision of the helpful home that takes care of the people inside it. 

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