Nest Expands Smart Heating, Cooling to the Whole Family

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New features for the Nest Learning Thermostat announced today take the company back to its roots: saving money on heating and cooling costs.

Released via an update to the Nest app, Home/Away Assist and Family Accounts aim to know who is (or isn't) home, and adjust the heat and air conditioning accordingly.

With Family Accounts, Nest recognizes that more than one person—roommates, spouses, and the like—might want to control a house's temperature, so up to 10 people can now access all the Nest products in a home. That means no more sharing logins or passwords, a dangerous but common practice.

In addition to controlling thermostats, Family accounts will have access to Nest features like notifications from the Nest Protect security system, feeds from Nest webcams, and a monthly report detailing energy usage. The master account can manage other family members' access, including adding or deleting accounts, and access to third-party features that connect with Nest. 

Family Accounts will work in concert with Home/Away Assist to provide more accurate automatic thermostat settings. With every member of the household running their own Nest app on their phone, the heat will only shut off if every member is out of the house. That means less reliance on the thermostat's built-in sensors, which may be in a room someone's not using.

If a guest is present, though—a babysitter or cleaner, for example—sensors will still kick in to monitor the heat.

Privacy is obviously a concern with these new features. Nest says it doesn't track where you go, only whether or not you're home, and that all Nest communications are encrypted.

Home/Away Assist and Family Accounts will work with all products in the Nest ecosystem, including Nest Cam, which will stop recording if someone's home, and Nest Protect, which can run its sound checks when the house is empty. They'll also work with third-party products like the Yale Linus lock, which can give different levels of access to each account.

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