Earlier this month, Google announced that the Nest Secure can double as a Google Assistant device for quick voice commands. This is due to the Nest Guard featuring an on-device microphone that was previously — and accidentally — not disclosed, with some criticizing Google for its “error.”
The Nest Secure was announced on September 2017 as a home security system. Comprised of door sensors and keychains for quickly disarming, the Nest Guard acts as the smarts and hub, with a physical keypad and optional cellular connection.
At launch, the device listing on the Google Store noted the presence of motion, proximity, and tamper detection, but not the microphone. That retail listing has yet to be explicitly updated, but the Nest.com product page now reflects the microphone and “Built-in Google Assistant.”
According to Google, this exclusion was accidental and an “error.” When Assistant was announced on February 4th, Google commented how the “on-device microphone that is not enabled by default.” In a statement to Business Insider yesterday, Google — where Nest now resides with the rest of the company’s hardware division — clarified:
“The on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech specs. That was an error on our part.”
The company further explains the inclusion of the sensor for future possible security features, like detecting glass breaking.
According to Google, the microphone remains off unless Assistant is enabled by the user. Historically, the company has been pretty good at enforcing privacy on devices that have microphones. All smart speakers starting with the Google Home feature a physical button to disable always-on listening for the hotword, with this hardware switch making its way to third-party devices.