Smart home devices have been proliferating in popularity and in scope, with devices ranging from locks, lights and thermostats to cameras, speakers and more. Ecosystems that manage these devices are also shifting and shaping the market.
Currently, the three ecosystem leaders are Google Home, Apple HomeKit, and Amazon Alexa. Despite the potential of future connectivity platforms, Google Nest devices and Apple HomeKit are not currently compatible out of the box.
Although this may change with time, the facts are straight: in order to connect your Nest smart home products with HomeKit’s configurations, you need to use the right tools — and Home Hub from Starling is the best and most popular solution to get the job done.
An Overview of Nest & HomeKit Technologies
Although Nest and HomeKit are two of the most widely used smart home technologies around, they are not able to communicate or connect to each other without a little extra help from third party tools. With Home Hub, users can bridge the gap between their current Nest products and their personalized Apple HomeKit set-up.
Google Nest is a line of smart home products which today includes smart speakers, smart displays, cameras, doorbells, thermostats, smoke detectors, locks, and routers. HomeKit, on the other hand, is a software framework by Apple, made available in iOS, iPadOS and tvOS that lets users configure, communicate with, and control smart-home appliances using Apple devices. It provides users with a way to automatically discover their devices and configure them.
While most vendors support all three leading ecosystems, Google Nest devices are a bit trickier to work with. Google is both a leading device vendor and ecosystem provider, so Google Nest devices do not natively support Apple HomeKit. Apple HomeKit users can use Nest devices using the Google Home or Nest apps, but they lose out on the routines, scenes, automations, and integrations that come with HomeKit-compatible solutions.
What About Matter?
Recently, some misleading information has been released regarding a new platform called Matter. Matter is a set of future connectivity technologies (both hardware and software) for smart home devices that’s under development by Google, Apple and others. Should Matter come to fruition smoothly, it would have broad industry support. This is a great step forward for home automation, but Matter was originally scheduled for release in 2019 but, due to delays, will now not appear until 2022 or later - and the launch version of the standard doesn't include any support for cameras at all.
Matter hints at a world where future products won’t be burdened by the politics of ecosystem conflict. It will instead allow smart home developers to build multiple types of devices around a single platform. Since it’s focused on future technology, Matter is not a retrofit system and has nothing to do with smart home devices currently on the market today.
With the possible, yet unconfirmed, exception of the October 2020 Google Nest Thermostat model, every Nest device available today won't ever support Matter, and so needs Starling Home Hub to connect with Apple HomeKit.
Starling Home Hub & Compatible Technologies
Starling Home Hub is an easy-to-use device that connects Google Nest smart home products to users’ personalized Apple HomeKit set-ups.
Ultimately, Home Hub bridges the gap between the two, and makes all Nest products appear as native HomeKit devices in the Apple Home app. Users can also use Home Hub to create HomeKit automations to link Nest devices with other HomeKit products in order to make all smart home devices work together more efficiently.
Here are some examples of what Home Hub can do:
Connect Nest Thermostat, Protect, Camera/Doorbell, Secure and Nest x Yale lock products to your Apple Home and Siri
Stream audio from any Apple device to Nest Audio, Mini, or Google Nest Hub
Integrate Nest perfectly with HomeKit and AirPlay on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Watch, Apple TV and HomePod
Develop your own Nest integrations beyond HomeKit with our Developer Connect API
Want to turn the porch lights on when your Nest camera sees motion after dark? Create automations in moments to make your home more convenient, safer, and more comfortable
As long as users can connect Starling Home Hub to a spare Ethernet port on a home Internet router or switch and configure their hub using a web browser on an iPhone, Mac or any device on the home network, it’s possible, and easy, to join Nest and HomeKit within the same ecosystem.
Looking to the Future
The bottom line is, Matter and Home Hub are two completely different technologies. Where Starling Home Hub connects current and future Nest devices to Apple HomeKit, Matter is a single platform that device vendors can build future devices around.
Starling connects today's Nest devices to Apple HomeKit and none of these devices will start working in Apple Home in the future without it — even once Matter is released and the first Matter products begin to appear sometime in 2022.
Starling, together with our customers and other vendors, naturally hope that in the future there will be an “ecosystem-neutral” approach whereby vendors can develop smart home products around a universally supported platform, eliminating the need to support Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit or Alexa individually.
However, smart home products tend to have very long product replacement cycles (typically 10+ years) so any new smart home product platform that emerges in the near future will take a long time to make a dent in the industry.