Nest and Google clarify: recalled smoke detectors returning soon, no ads on thermostats

Nest Thermostat Protect

Contrary to a flurry of reports yesterday, Google was never going to put ads on the Nest Thermostat. Moreover, Nest co-founder and the iPod Godfather, Tony Fadell, has confirmed that recalled thermostats will be returning to store shelves sooner than you think.

Allow me to refresh your memory: soon after it was discovered that a safety bug with a Protect Wave feature could prevent the alarm from sounding, Google’s Nest unit has responded by preemptively recalling about 40,000 faulty units.

This should set the record straight and put to rest the ridiculous notion that recalling smoke detectors and not doing ads in thermostats is somehow evil…

Concerning the recalled thermostats, The Guardian reports that rumors of the smoke protector’s demise have been greatly exaggerated because a firmware update allows continued use.

Nest advised users to install a software update which deactivates the “Nest Wave” feature, which was the cause of the bug. Once that update is installed, the smoke alarm is safe to use.

Specifically, the product is returning to store shelves “in a few weeks,” the paper has learned. The controversial Wave feature lets Nest owners silence false alarms by waving their hand at the detector.

At the time of this writing, the Online Apple Store offered Nest’s learning thermostat, but the smoke detector was nowhere to be found. As you know, Google in January bought Nest Labs for a cool $3.2 billion.

Nest Protect (image 001)

The company is currently offering Nest products online, via its Google Play store. Google’s future plans for Nest remain murky, though there are indications that the Internet giant is looking to advance the product, if job posts seeking various engineers are an indication.

As for ads on thermostats, Google’s public relations people were quick to deny the claim, which was misinterpreted from a letter Google sent to the SEC about potentially exploring advertising opportunities in a wide range of devices such as “refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, watches” and more.

The filing was submitted prior to Google’s Nest buy and contains the specific wording mentioning a timetable “a few years from now,” prompting privacy advocates to cry foul.

Nest Protect (image 005)Nest Protect (image 006)Nest Protect (image 004)

Google later told Engadget it was in contact with the SEC to “clarify the language” in its 2013 filing, which “does not reflect” Google’s product roadmap.

Nest, which we acquired after this filing was made, does not have an ads-based model and has never had any such plans.

Company co-founder Tony Fadell reiterated Google’s position in a statement to Re/code on Wednesday:

Nest is being run independently from the rest of Google, with a separate management team, brand and culture.

For example, Nest has a paid-for business model, while Google has generally had an ads-supported business model. We have nothing against ads — after all Nest does lots of advertising.

We just don’t think ads are right for the Nest user experience.

“At this point, there are no changes,” Fadell said back in January responding to concerns after Nest updated its privacy policy to allow data sharing with Google. The “at this point” wording implies that Google wants to leave its options open.

Tony Fadell Bloomberg interview (image 001)

Fadell will be speaking next week at Re/code’s Code Conference hosted by technology columnists Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher (formerly of AllThingsD’s D Conference).

Top Apple executives Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi will headline the second night of the conference. Other high-profile speakers include such names as General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Hollywood mogul Ryan Seacrest.