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Google Promises to Fix the Biggest Problem With Nest Cameras

The company also plans to launch a new version of its wired Nest Doorbell next year.

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A photo of the battery-powered doorbell affixed to a plank of wood
You can only use the battery-powered Nest doorbell in the Google Home app, which makes bringing it into a home with older Nest devices very annoying!
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

If you’re planning to upgrade your existing Nest cameras to the refreshed outdoor camera or battery-powered doorbell, a warning: If you have any old Nest hardware up and running, you’ll have to use two apps to manage the past Nests with the latest ones. It’s an issue I came across while reviewing the cameras, and it’s something Google is aware will annoy its users until everything is fully merged.

The company has been slowly overhauling its security camera lineup. With each update comes an improved piece of connected hardware, with the caveat that it only works within the Google Home app. Previously, you’d connect a Nest security camera to your home network and manage it all through the Nest app. That app still exists, but as Google builds out its Home app to become the centralized controller for its connected devices, it’s also forcing users toward that app by making Nest irrelevant.


The good news is that Google plans to fix this horrible experience.

“We know this can be frustrating, and we are committed to bringing the experiences and Nest devices you have come to love in the Nest app into the Home app,” wrote Rishi Chandra, VP of Google Nest, in a Wednesday blog post. “This will take time to get right, and we will continue to share more details as we have updates.”


The Home app can handle much of what the Nest app did before, including managing battery-powered and wired security cameras, event-based notifications, and 24/7 continuous video-recording and history. These abilities aren’t specific to the Nest lineup—you can find them on Arlo and TP-Link Kasa security cameras, for instance—but they add to the value.

Chandra added that there are some new features coming to the camera experience in the Home app. You’ll be able to flip between events more quickly rather than painstakingly scrubbing through the timeline for activity. Google is also rolling out the “desktop experience” for the Google Home app for next year, which hopefully means the simple ability to use it in the browser. I use this constantly with my original Nest devices, as I’m not always able to pick up and paw at my smartphone to see what’s going on, especially during work hours. And while it won’t fix the two-app issue for a while, it will make it easier to manage devices side by side directly from your computer.

Chandra also teased a new Nest coming soon. For folks bummed out by the battery-powered Nest Doorbell’s inability to do around-the-clock recording, Google will be launching the second-generation wired Nest Doorbell in 2022. You can still buy the first-gen wired Nest Doorbell for now, but if you want the updated look of the rest of the Nest camera lineup, you’ll have to hold out for a while longer. The current battery-powered doorbell can’t record 24/7 video because of issues with heat dissipation. It’ll be interesting to see what the next wired doorbell looks like—especially with Amazon nipping at Google’s heels when it comes to home security.