16 Nest Tips to Help You Take Control of Your Smart Home

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Nest Labs is one of the first companies to try to take the smart home a little more mainstream, first with the Nest Learning Thermostat in 2011 and then the Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in 2013.

After Google snapped up the company in January 2014 for $3.2 billion, Nest turned around and bought Dropcam for $555 million. It succeeded that award-winning line of home surveillance cams with its own Nest Cam; an outdoor version was recently released and became our Editors' Choice. Nest is now a full subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., Google's parent company.

That makes it sound like roses and sunshine, but the transitions within Nest haven't always been easy. Nest Labs co-founder Tony Fadell was ousted as CEO earlier this year, and even the former owner of Dropcam says he regrets selling his company. There have also been some security issues.

Still, Nest has a LOT of products in the market. They're sold in all the major big-box stores in the US, as well as Canada, France, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the UK—190 countries in all. Time Magazine called the Nest Learning Thermostat one of the 50 most influential gadgets of all time, something our review concurred with at launch. All the current Nest products are PCMag Editors' Choices, with the exception of the indoor Nest Cam, and even that got four stars.

In North America, 4.5 million homes had smart thermostats of some kind by the end of 2015, up 78 percent from 2014. They're not all from Nest—Ecobee and others make nice options—but about 25 percent of homes with a Nest product of some kind have at least one other IoT product that falls under the "Works with Nest" banner. Despite growing pains aplenty, Nest has managed to make an ecosystem that works.

But it can always work better, so these tips and tricks will help you get the most out of whichever Nest gadget you own.

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