One of the early agonies of early adoption is compatibility. Google Home, Apple HomeKit, Ring devices all exist in their own ecosystems and they seldom overlap easily. I started my Smart Home adventure solely on the Apple Homekit system, it worked well but the range of devices was limited and were often more expensive than those on other platforms.
Over time Google Home began to take over and we installed the Nest heating system with all its initial frustrations. The aim was to have a heating system that was smart and accessible remotely. It quickly became apparent that Nest’s ‘learning’ concept wasn’t going to work for us as we didn’t have a set weekly routine. Equally the home-away assist was problematic, and we ended up having to install a 3rd party geofencing app for it to work reliably 80% of the time.
Things did improve when Google took over the Nest app but in reality, all I had a digital heating system that turned off if everyone was out. I do still receive my monthly Nest home report but to date I have managed to earn a leaf for every day of ownership. Has it saved me money? perhaps, I have a spreadsheet of data but with fuel price and weather variability it’s difficult to know.
Siri v Google
Siri’s ability to recognise voices has improved and at the time of writing is better (for us) that Google. Add to this the fact that Homepod mini’s are almost affordable we have more access to our Homekit network )and security systems) around the house. I have a range of Eve sensors and Hue lighting but the notable absence to the platform is access to my Nest heating and Nest Protects.
Welcome the Starling Hub for Google Nest
Just over six weeks ago I discovered a neat little hub that bridges the Google and Homekit platforms. I placed an order and watched the device journey across the US to finally arrive in Belfast a week or so later.
It is small and plugs directly into your router (or switch if you run a larger network. The bridge took less than ten minutes to install and my Nest devices appeared instantly in my Homekit App. The little device just sits on the network and there is little, or no delay triggering actions from the Homkit app. A few weeks after installation the hub received an update adding any Google speakers to also be accessible from the Apple ecosphere.
Image 1: HomeKit view of Thermostat Control, Image 2: Eve View of Thermostat, Image 3: Eve view of Nest Protect
Google Nest and the Eve App
It is great to see all the metrics collected by the thermostats and Protects (Smoke Alarms) appearing in Homekit. Nest Protects connected to the mains electricity also feature a motion detection option (as per the Google Nest app). I can opt which geo-location platform (or both) can manage the thermostats turning on and off Eco mode. I can also control the temperature via Siri and trigger routines via Homekit.
What about Matter?
Yes, I know Matter is on the way but the little Starling hub does everything that I need now and it does it well. Better still it also integrates with the free Eve app so I can even see target temperature in graphical format. The Eve App works on iPhone, iPad and the latest M chip MacBooks. It is also worth noting that Matter is only coming to the latest 2020 thermostat (as far I as know) so my learning Nest won’t receive it.
It is worth nothing that the Apple Home app informs you that the devices are not ‘certified’ but it doesn’t stop any of the functionality. 30 days in and the Starling Hub has really shown its value in my HomeKit Setup.
In short, the Starling Hub connects your Nest Thermostat, Protect, Camera, Secure and Nest × Yale Lock products to your Apple Home system. The latest update introduces the ability to stream audio from any Apple device to Nest Audio, Mini or Google Nest Hub (including Nest Wifi). It’s a great little device if you want to integrate Apple Home with Nest.