The Nest app on Apple TV
In May, Google embarked on a new effort to unify all of the customers under its Nest hardware arm under the same account system as the rest of the search empire. Google told its customers that, as part of bringing its Home products under the Nest brand, it would be pressing customers to migrate their Nest account to a Google account, starting from the summer.
The migration was billed as a way to make Nest devices more secure by providing the same account protections as afforded to Google accounts, including suspicious activity detection and two-step verification. Having everything under a single account also made it supposedly easier for devices to work together, such as enabling a Nest Hub to show live video from the Nest Hello doorbell without any additional setup.
At the same time, Google confirmed it was preparing to end its “Works with Nest” program that allowed app developers and hardware producers to interface with Nest devices. Google later cut access to new Works With Nest connections in August of 2019.
The Google Nest Indoor Cam
Not long after the announcement, Google issued an update on its plans, confirming it was working to keep access to Nest services on other device ecosystems active. Alongside working with Amazon to migrate the Nest skill that works with Amazon Alexa, Google claimed it was also working with “other partners” on more custom integrations.
Despite the assurances it was working to keep Nest customers happy, there is evidence there are some areas where it is falling far behind of keeping those promises.
Apple TV migration failure
One of the ways Nest users have been able to use its products is via the Nest companion app, which is available for iPhone, iPad, and the Apple TV. Logging in enables management and access to the various products, such as allowing homeowners to view live feeds from their Nest cameras from a television connected to the Apple TV.
However, while users on the old Nest accounts are being regularly bothered with reminders to migrate over, those who do make the switch end up in a situation where they cannot log into their Google accounts. Despite support continuing for Nest accounts, Apple TV users are not able to log in with their Google accounts to that version of the app.
While it would be reasonable to expect apps will be updated to support the new account style, Google has so far failed to do so for the Apple TV at all.
Posts on the Google Nest Help forums reveal many complaints from users who have migrated and found they can’t view their Nest cameras on the Apple TV anymore. Even as recently as January 2020, eight months after the initial announcement, users are posting their complaints about the problem to the forums.
In some of the threads, a Community Specialist offers a general response stating “Migrated accounts do not work with Android or Apple TV apps,” referencing Google’s own set-top box software that has the same issue, but that feedback would be passed along “to the right team.” There is also a recommendation to check support sites and social media channels for updates.
On being provided this information, some users expressed their displeasure at this development, as well as alluding to the unlikelihood of support returning to the app.
Some users are also unhappy at Google’s decision to not disclose the lack of Apple TV support at the time of migration. As Google has also disabled the ability to create a new Nest account, there is no official workaround for the problem.
Searches of the support pages seem to suggest Google declined to mention there would be an Apple TV-specific problem at all.
An App Store review for the Nest app showing some of the effects of Google’s lack of updates
One still-active support page for installing and using the Nest app for Apple TV explains the instructions are for “Nest users who have not migrated to a Google account.” Though it does point those same users in the direction of migrating over to a Google account, there is no sign of an equivalent set of instructions for those using the Google account, which by its absence indicates there is no support offered.
Complaints are not limited to Google’s support. Negative reviews on the App Store complain of similar issues since migrating over. One user wrote in November of how the migrating made “our video cameras worthless” because of their reliance on the Apple TV for viewing them. Furthermore, their use of iPads that were four years old meant they couldn’t update to newer iOS versions that later updates to the Nest app do not support, meaning they cannot be utilized for viewing the cameras either.
A possible glimmer of hope
Posts from January reporting on conversations with support are varied, with one conversation with a chat-based representative claiming support was halted “due to privacy and security” reasons and that there was no update on the way to fix the problem.
Extract from a Nest customer’s chat with support
More recent feedback from a conversation claimed the user was informed the “next non .X update would feature a fix for Apple TV integration.” Given Google’s CES announcements regarding third-party integrations with Google Home, it makes sense that a fix would arrive at roughly the same time.
However, even after that CES announcement, there has still been no official confirmation from Google that support for the Nest app on Apple TV will be extended to Google accounts.
Google’s glacial rate of updates may be seen as an attempt by the search company to try and push those on other ecosystems into buying devices that are more directly compatible with its products and services. More charitably, given the similar status for the Android TV version, it could simply be Google electing to put its resources into other products and services, leaving those it deems inessential to have minimal support and caretaker-style development.
Either way, to that Venn diagram where Apple TV owners converge with Nest device owners, Google is viewed in a negative light, a position it could have easily rectified many months ago.
AppleInsider has contacted Google for further information about the issue and the possible reinstatement of support.