17
Dec
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Yesterday, The Information reported that Google is rumored to be working on smart thermostats, in a renewed bid to help users manage their home energy (and interior climate). Information on the project is sparse so far, but Google hopes it will be a successful follow-up to the unsuccessful PowerMeter, a service that was killed off due to apparent scaling difficulties.

Thanks to a tipster who is - we know you've heard this before - familiar with the matter, we've got an early glimpse into Google's upcoming thermostat foray - we've got a few new details and a look at the service's Android app.

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Our tipster tells us that the service will be able to control your home's thermostat remotely via Android or a web-based console. Above, you can see the web interface as viewed on a tablet. The mobile app likewise looks very much like any of Google's other web products - simple, intuitive illustration with plenty of long shadows and easy-to-recognize iconography. Controlling your home's temperature from the app is as easy as sliding your finger up or down over the round temperature indicator.

Users will be able to remotely monitor temperatures and create schedule presets for Awake, Away, Home, and Asleep. While these profiles aren't automated yet, our tipster indicates that Google is looking into more automation, and predictive capabilities either similar to or integrated with Google Now.

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As for hardware, our tipster confirmed that Google is not - as of now - producing any related devices for this service, but that it will be compatible with off-the-shelf units (from Ecobee and presumably others) that allow Google's services to hook in. Ecobee (whose CEO told The Information the company currently has no business relationship with Google) already produces smart thermostats, but they lack some of the features Nest boasts, like motion detection. Our tipster implies, however, that something similar to Nest's learning modes will come in the future.

With the continued proliferation of connected appliances and home-bound gadgets, Google could be re-entering the arena at a great time. Whether the EnergySense brand will cover a broader range of devices than just thermostats remains to be seen, but this is certainly an exciting first step. We'll keep you posted as new details emerge.

Update: As we prepared this post for print, @evleaks shared a screenshot of the EnergySense app's listing in the Play Store, seen below.

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • https://twitter.com/KryptosXLayer2 KryptosXLayer2

    Might be time to sell my 1st gen Nest then!

    Maybe I'm off based in asking this but..... how is that app connecting to a thermostat if it's on Airplane mode in the portrait (cell phone) screen shots above?

    • Roemraw

      Through the NSA servers. Everything goes through them. This message? Yup, you guessed it. NSA read this too. (Hi NSA! *waves*)

      But seriously:
      It is connected to the thermostat of the airplane! xD
      Okay, sorry about that, but I didn;t really have anything serious to say

      • https://twitter.com/KryptosXLayer2 KryptosXLayer2

        That's blatantly obivious (regarding the last line, only)

        • Roemraw

          I came back to say something less stupid:

          Maybe they use a custom launcher that hides the wifi indicator
          And though it is in airplane mode it is connected to the airplane's wifi (it is a fancy plane) and that it how it is connected tot teh world wide webz :D

          • https://twitter.com/KryptosXLayer2 KryptosXLayer2

            If only slightly........

          • Roemraw

            I know, sorry about that.
            But when the original post was so amazing it is hard to be less stupid than that. I mean, negative stupidity is hard to find on the internet. Having said that, It IS more useful than both your replies though. ;)

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      I bet the airplane mode was enabled just in case, for additional safety.

      • https://twitter.com/KryptosXLayer2 KryptosXLayer2

        Fair enough, but as far as the connection to the device? Wired somehow then? You're not changing any of the Nest settings without some sort of connection and they don't have any wired way of doing it

        Also, I KNOW I'm looking too much into this simple point, but as we all know, this could all be faked and I'm just being overly cautious, haha

        • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

          There's nothing to indicate it's connected to ANY actual device right now. My assumption is the person who has the app may not be supposed to have it, so switched to airplane mode while running it and taking screenshots to protect the source. I'm quite confident the thermostat devices will connect to the Internet via WiFi, and then this will communicate with them via the Internet. But the key word is "will," as it isn't functioning yet. The source is merely demoing the app without any hardware since the hardware (or updates to it) is surely not commonly available yet.

          • https://twitter.com/KryptosXLayer2 KryptosXLayer2

            Works for me!

        • http://google.com/+derekross Derek Ross

          Sure, the screenshots could be faked or aliens could be at work We'll never know. The service and application are real though. Yep.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            The screenshots are not fake, I vouch for them.

          • http://google.com/+derekross Derek Ross

            Oh I know, I failed at sarcasm. Also, 3.

  • Trent Russell

    I guess what i don't understand is the money/energy saving angle of this and Nest, etc. The variables in efficiency of HVAC systems and house construction/insulation are going to far outweigh if your AC runs for 5 or 6 hours a day. Automation is another thing entirely, but that's something a $30 thermostat from 1995 can handle.

    • Chris A

      I cannot speak for this, but in terms of the Nest, it "learns" your home. It takes at least a week to really start to learn your house and then continues learning. Not just your schedule but how long it takes to cool your home. It also figures out how early it can shut off your AC and just use the fan to continue pushing cold air still in the vents out. Since I bought it early in the year, I can tell you my electric bills have dropped dramatically and I would say that it has paid for itself. I had one of those "$30 thermostats from 1995" that had scheduling functionality before the Nest.

    • http://www.anivision.org/ Christopher Bailey (Xcom923)

      It doesn't always make sense but it does work. My AC doesn't run nearly as much as it did before the switch to nest. This is not only because of scheduling but the fact that the nest will automatically detect if you're even home (which works pretty well) you also have the remote control aspect which I know a lot of people don't care but you only don't care till you have had it for a while.

  • Jon

    ill be keeping my nest. the latest update to their app makes for an amazingly polished experience on android

    • http://www.anivision.org/ Christopher Bailey (Xcom923)

      I have a nest 2nd gen but because of my recent move (I rent) the nest will be staying at the house I'm in now so I have a year and a half to get something else (unless I stay here longer) so in that time if Google makes this more compelling than nest I'm all for it but at the moment I'm with you, there isn't really a need to jump on this yet.

  • projectmisha

    Here is what Google needs to do. Maybe this is the plan. This and other things like it need to go the Chromecast route. I was looking at the Ecobee. It is big, has a fancy screen and controls. And expensive. Google needs to make one as basic as possible, and keep the price low. Maybe no buttons at all. It should be like the chromecast. Controlled from a PC or Phone. You know how many more homes they would get this in, if it was $35 as opposed to $135 plus? If you can make a Chromecast for $35, you can make a thermostat for under that.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      I don't know about the price of manufacturing a thermostat, but I do agree that simple is almost always better. It shouldn't be about how many things can be added but how many things can be removed to create the best experience.

    • https://twitter.com/KryptosXLayer2 KryptosXLayer2

      Wellllllllllll...... no, not really, Chromecast really isn't all that involved (and I'm not saying a smart thermostat IS), but if you've ever installed a Nest, you'd know it isn't "plug and play," for the most part! There's a lot more to it than just plugging in an HDMI and running power to what you'd have to do to get a smart thermostat working and set up properly

      • projectmisha

        I didn't mean to imply setup and ease of use. I meant price. Yeah, thermostats have a lot of wires to connect, that isn't easy. But that isn't relevant to the price per se

        • https://twitter.com/KryptosXLayer2 KryptosXLayer2

          Of course, we're talking about price, and I'm just assuming that the programming and development involved on the Nest was far greater than that of the Chromecast, just from having used both

        • http://www.anivision.org/ Christopher Bailey (Xcom923)

          I have to agree with @mikeGsays:disqus I have both products as well. The Nest also has that screen and we all know that anything with a screen like that is going to cost a pretty penny, and lets go beyond that. The nest has pretty much all the sensors of a modern smartphone sans cell. I know the chromecast does too but that's it, no connections to make it nearly universally compatible (which is my current beef with the chromecast but I'll save that for another rant) or a screen, and it's a small enclosed item instead of something that by it's very nature requires an in-depth setup.

          • projectmisha

            It doesn't need a screen. That's my point. You have a screen in your pocket and at your desk. You make it a simple box, with a chip inside (like the chromecast) and the cost drops.

          • http://www.anivision.org/ Christopher Bailey (Xcom923)

            While I would probably (along with our tech focused demo) would probably be fine with that I guarantee that it won't sell, at least not now. I've shown the nest to several people and as intuitive as that is it confuses the hell out of people because it's not what they are used to. Not having a display of the temp would not fly with a lot of ppl.

          • projectmisha

            I don't disagree. And 99% of companies wouldn't try what I am suggesting. But something new is always going to scare people, until enough people catch on and adopt it. This is true of any new technology and new way of doing common tasks.

          • airtonix

            eh, that's a small problem. It's not something that would stop me being first, were I to have the capital to bring this MVP

          • https://twitter.com/KryptosXLayer2 KryptosXLayer2

            Eh.... for something like this, and to even consider calling it a "smart" thermostat, you'd need a screen - while every other thermostat has gotten away without one since the Nest (maybe they weren't first, don't harp on that fact), it would be very counterproductive for El Goog to want to call something smart and make it easy to use without a screen....

          • Sir_Brizz

            Why does it need a "screen like that"? I have a Ye Olde Thermostat with a screen that is perfectly suitable for manually controlling the thermostat from the device and the tiny LCD screen probably makes up about 1% of the cost of the unit. What it sucks at is setting schedules and switching between them (something that could easily be relegated to a phone/tablet app).

            The cost of so-called "smart" thermostats today is extraordinarily restrictive. If someone came in with a smart device that was in the $50 range, they would destroy the top end market. The Nest's only advantage is the programming contained in it. The hardware is just an engineering enthusiast's wet dream. There is no reason someone couldn't do exactly what they are doing with a device that is 1/4th the price and somewhat uglier.

          • http://www.anivision.org/ Christopher Bailey (Xcom923)

            Its more than just the screen. However you are right, but the issue with knocking the price that low isn't so much about the cost per unit but the R&D and the server costs associated with a product like nest. Granted someone else could probably copy nest for much cheaper but you'd have to establish an infrastructure and that costs money.

            Don't get me wrong an established player like Honeywell could do this just fine but I don't see why they'd be compelled to. For a new player to come in they may have to charge for the service and try to make revenue that way, but it's just a thought. Otherwise I don't see these types of devices dipping under $100 any time soon.

          • Sir_Brizz

            I thought that was kind of the point here. Google already has the "infrastructure". They use it for all sorts of crap you already own. If they partnered with someone like Honeywell and developed a cheapo thermostat that could tie in to Google's already present infrastructure, it could turn the industry on its head.

            Heck, even $100 is cheaper than the crappy Honeywell "smart" thermostats that currently exist.

  • Michael Stringer Jr

    Please make this system multizoned. The fact I have to have the upstairs and downstairs fight is frustrating enough.

  • Aooga

    If the nest app was redesigned to look like this, the nest would be a clear winner. The app is getting better, but still looks like a ported iOS app.

    • http://www.anivision.org/ Christopher Bailey (Xcom923)

      AMEN!! I actually find this annoying a lot of companies continue to just port their iOS apps over and don't bother conforming to Android standards....but that's a rant for another day

      • airtonix

        and then they wonder why engagement is low on android devices. lol.

  • moelsen8

    think you'll need to have a google+ account to use it? :P

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Actually, you'll need an account from a special upcoming social network exclusively for energy conservation nerds. It's called Google-, where the "-" is for using less energy.

      • http://mrmcpowned.com mrmcpowned

        This new thermostat will also be using newly revolutionized "Thermostatic Social Awareness™." With the help of Google Now, the thermostat will be able to tell whenever you're complaining about the room or house being too hot or too cold, and adjusting the temperature accordingly based on an user compiled and algorithmically refined Complaint Meter, so it always has the temperature set perfectly.

        Source: Someone familiar with the matter.

    • veRdiKt

      uhhh dont you wanna share your temps with me mosbley??>??

  • HugePotato

    Now I am biggest android fan (oh, I know you are bigger!) and by no means have ever been a conspiracy theory guy, but I start to wonder that there is just too much of google in this world. I mean, they are now working on robots, buying quantum computers from dwave, let you take control of thermostat in your house(so basically if someone wants to take control over it, he will) and many other things that I too use like gmail, search are google-based. Even browser I write this comment in is Chrome.
    So basically our whole digital lifes are controlled.
    Don't bash me because I've come to these thoughts just yesterday. Just something to think about.

    • abhisshack

      Google is not Skynet , it just want to be Real Life "Cyberdyne Systems", what could be goes wrong ;-)

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

      http://i.imgur.com/N9eRaKM.png

      The primary reason I'm not really afraid of Google controlling my thermostat.

      • meelyg

        Easy to talk nonsense when it's not your family home
        invaded by government under suspicion of terrorism,

        all because you collectively google searched:
        pressure cooker, backpack, boston bombing

        Ignorance really is bliss

      • Roh_Mish

        Google And Samsung logo is mixEd up there

      • :D

        It's not so much of a terminator evil type conspiracy I am worried about. It's about being forced to use all of their proprietary software because a.) they wiped out the competition by doing things like placing "Install Chrome" on one of the most visited websites or b.) Google products work well only with other Google products(normally it's not true, since Apple get's updates quicker xD).

        Yes, I am mad because they shut down Google reader,

      • Sootie

        At least credit where you got it from fella

    • http://www.anivision.org/ Christopher Bailey (Xcom923)

      I'd agree with you except for Google encourages competition. Unlike some people (*cough* Microsoft *cough*) they are very transparent with their software (most of the time) and tries to spread their services to as many devices as possible. They are not in any kind of monopoly that I can see and there are usually always alternatives to using Google. Now I know people like to say that they can't get around using google but unless you are in the SEO game there is no real reason to say that. But that's just my $.02

      • airtonix

        I'd like to help you with your cough:

        cough cough Apple cough cough.

    • Mike Reid

      No bashing. Everyone will come to their "Aha !" moment in time. :)

      Mine came from realizing that many people spend 1+ hours driving in their car every day. That 1+ hours a day that people can use Google services such as Google+, Youtube, streaming music, games etc.

      BUT we can't have smartphone/car tablet etc. distracted drivers can we ? It's illegal and very unsafe.

      Aha !! THAT's the reason Google wants driverless/Google automated cars !! Just sit back and enjoy Google services while Google drives your car. They have the maps/navigation/traffic monitoring already, right ?

      And you'll be on your way, when the friendly Google voice says:

      "It's 6:00 PM, you must be hungry. You should try the new baconator at the hamburgerco restaurant just ahead and on the right. Shall I navigate there for you ?"

      "Can I order ahead for you ? Your baconator will be ready to go, and your Google Payment service has already paid for you. A Google/MomsRobotCo assistant will be on hand for any special needs."

      I'm among the group of technology fans who can imagine MANY things in the future, though many can seem silly decades later. And I did not imagine Google being as omni-present as they are now, 10 years ago.

      So I'm pretty much convinced that this is part of the future world that Googlers are now planning.

      I AM convinced that Google is effectively seeking world domination, via fast and high profit projects that can use the massive leverage that technology can provide. If a project turns out to not have high leverage, they drop it.

    • airtonix

      It's too late to stop skynet now.

  • Daeshaun Griffiths

    Yeah i'm waiting for app that starts my car and turns on the coffee maker.

  • http://techsym.com/ cubanresourceful

    This looks awesome! :D Would definitely want this. :D

  • Chris
  • aaron cooper

    I got a suggestion: Why doesn't Google start building homes that are energy efficient and connected? Make the world a better place, etc ???? I for one would buy a Google Home...

  • Gregg Long

    Hey Google. Just buy Nest and give them the money to do more marketing and expand their product ecosystem. And then buy Dropcam, one of the door lock/uplock via bluetooth (like Kevo but make i work better) makers, and a lighting system like Hue. Tie it all together with Android and you've in Shut Up and Take My Money territory.

  • sean

    Pay $400 to read a website, are these people crazy?

  • Lou

    Just like that I am thinking how this will pair with Glass!

  • Lexcyn

    If this works with any of the RadioThermostat units, I will be very excited.