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Alphabet's Nest Introduces Family Accounts and Now Uses Your Phone to Know If You're Away

By Evan Niu, CFA - Mar 10, 2016 at 1:00PM

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Nest will now automate Home and Away settings using your phone location data.

Image source: Nest.

What happened?
Alphabet's (GOOG 1.17%) (GOOGL 1.16%) Nest smart thermostat company is introducing a couple new features aimed at improving the functionality of its flagship device: Family Accounts and Home/Away Assist.

Family Accounts allow multiple users within a household to each have an account without having to share login credentials. Home/Away Assist will automate the Home and Away settings on Nest using one of three different methods, including your phone's location data. Realizing that phone geo-fencing alone is not a perfect solution, Nest will also use activity sensors built into its devices.

Does it matter?
As a Nest owner, I can personally attest that shared login credentials and having to manually set the device to Away are some pain points of using the smart thermostat. Up until now, users had to rely on third-party solutions such as If This Then That, a service that connects a wide range of Internet services, to automate Home/Away.

Nest is a particularly important part of Alphabet's Other Bets operating segment. Not only did Alphabet pay a hefty $3.2 billion for the company two years ago, but Nest generates most of that revenue. Other Bets generated a total of $448 million in revenue last year, and Alphabet lists Nest as one of the primary contributors, along with Fiber.

Nest is also Alphabet's biggest push into the smart home, so making the product better and easier to use is welcome news.

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