Smart home company Nest today announced that a promised Google Assistant update for its Cam IQ security camera has now arrived, which brings Google’s voice-based artificial intelligence platform to the indoor version of the camera.
Nest originally promised Google Assistant for the Cam IQ back in September, when it launched the outdoor version of the camera alongside a new video doorbell and home security system. It appears Nest missed the deadline, but the company says it’s now ready to deliver the over-the-air update starting today. (It should be noted that the outdoor version of the Nest Cam IQ is not getting the update.)
In addition to the Google Assistant update, Nest is also adding a new $5 plan to its Nest Aware subscription service that gets you five days of video uploading, compared with the current $10 / 10-day and $30 / 30-day plans. Nest says it’s also adding the ability for its cameras to distinguish human beings and objects in so-called Activity Zones, which are designated areas in your camera’s line of sight where you suspect motion might occur. The feature comes with Nest’s subscription service, called Nest Aware, which will now also let you merge redundant facial recognition libraries to cut down on the number of photos your Nest accesses to identify familiar people.
With the Google Assistant update, Nest Cam IQ owners will be able to access the same version of Google’s voice-based AI that lives on Android, iOS, and Google Home devices. You can ask Google Assistant basic web queries, create calendar appointments, set reminders, and also control other Nest and Nest-compatible products like the Nest Thermostat and Philips Hue smart lights. In other words, the update essentially turns your Nest Cam IQ into a Google Home, which is quite useful if you don’t already own that gadget and don’t care for its more limited utility as a music speaker.
However, in what appears to be a slight technical roadblock of sorts, Google Assistant cannot control the Nest Cam IQ itself. So you can’t ask Google to tell your camera to turn on when you leave the house or deactivate when you get home. Nest says many of those features can be automated in its mobile app, but it is a bit weird that Google Assistant doesn’t work directly with the device it lives on, though that may change in the future.
Nest recently rejoined Google proper as part of the search giant’s hardware division, specifically to make it easier for the two companies to work together on integrating AI across Google’s entire hardware ecosystem. To that end, Google is increasingly looking to its AI prowess as a way to differentiate both its software and hardware offerings from Amazon and Apple.
Both of the latter companies have moved aggressively into the home as a way to both bolster their respective digital voice assistants and as an avenue for selling consumer hardware devices. Now that Nest is part of Google once more, it seems likely owners of the company’s thermostats, smoke detectors, cameras, and security systems will be seeing quite a few AI-focused updates down the line.