Google Nest Learning Thermostat
Review date: Nov. 8, 2021
Learning is fun! Owning a thermostat that learns all about how warm and cool you like your house is maybe fun too? According to Google, use this thermostat for a week and it'll adapt to you. The app lets you control the temperature in your home from anywhere and sends alerts when things don't look quite right. It'll even let you know when it's time to change your furnace filter. Best of all, that learning can help save energy and money. The big question is, can it learn who’s side to pick when you like it hot and your partner likes it cold?
What could happen if something goes wrong?
Google seems to do a better job than some of the other Big Tech companies when it comes to privacy (looking at you Facebook). That said, you should be aware they are a huge ad company that needs your data to sell ads. Google promises that your voice recordings won’t be used to send you personalized ads, but they admit transcripts of your voice interactions with your may. So, while this smart thermostat doesn't have a microphone built in (yay!), when you control it with a smart speaker like the Google Nest Mini, those voice transcripts could be used to target you ads. Google uses your personal information to show you ads all over the place like in your Gmail, in your favorite Solitaire app, on partner websites, and on YouTube.
We do like that users are now automatically opted out of Google's human review of voice recordings, because that was super creepy. We also like that Google does try to communicate with users how they collect and use data in their Safety Center. Google does collect a lot of data on you, especially if you don't take the time to adjust your privacy settings to lock down just how much info they can gather. You should absolutely take the time to adjust these privacy settings. Just beware, you will get notifications that some things might not work right if you change settings. That’s annoying, and probably worth it for a little more privacy.
Tips to protect yourself
- Visit privacy controls to adjust the amount of data collected.
- Delete your historical data from time to time.
- Review Nest privacy tips.
What can be used to sign up?
What data does the company collect?
Name, email, phone number, address.
How does the company use this data?
How can you control your data?
What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?
In August 2019, the company admitted that partners who work to analyze voice snippets from the Assistant leaked the voice snippets of some Dutch users. More than 1,000 private conversations were sent to a Belgian news outlet, some of the messages reportedly revealed sensitive information such as medical conditions and customer addresses.
In December 2018, a bug exposed the data of 52.5 million Google+ users.
Can this product be used offline?
User-friendly privacy information?
Links to privacy information
Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?
Google has a Security Rewards program, which means that anyone who finds a security issue and discloses it responsibly may get paid.
Google publishes academic papers about it's AI research and makes several tools available via open source.
Is this AI untrustworthy?
What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?
With Auto-Schedule, your Nest thermostat learns what temperatures you like at different times of the day.
Is the company transparent about how the AI works?
Does the user have control over the AI features?
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