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Smart Home

Google rolls out voice controls for the Nest Learning Thermostat

Nest owners will now be able to adjust their thermostats with simple, spoken commands.

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Google

After buying Nest Labs for $3.2 billion back in January, it was only a matter of time before Google introduced deeper integration with the popular smart thermostat. Now, nearly a year later, Nest owners will be able to monitor and control their thermostats in the Chrome browser, or by using Google's app on Android and iOS devices.

Most notably, that includes "OK, Google"-powered voice controls. You'll need to authorize Google to access your Nest, but once you do, you'll be able to tell it to change the temperature from your smartphone, tablet or computer. You'll also be shown Google Now cards telling you whenever the thermostat is making an adjustment, which seems like a smart, unobtrusive way of keeping tabs on the temperature.

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Nest Labs

Nest isn't the first thermostat to integrate voice controls -- Honeywell released a model you could adjust with voice commands back in 2013. The commands were a bit basic for our tastes when we tested the Honeywell out , though -- you could only adjust it up or down, and not to a specific temperature, for instance. Additionally, with the microphone packed into the thermostat itself, you needed to be in the same room as the thing.

Comprehensive voice control seems like the next big step for the smart home, with smaller players like the Ubi and Ivee Sleek already in the mix, along with Insteon controls for Cortana on Windows devices. We've been waiting for Apple to flip the switch on HomeKit and hand the keys to the smart home over to Siri, something we're expecting to see in January at CES.

At this point, though, Google can claim it got there first. Moving forward, we'll have to wait and see if it follows suit for key Nest partners, or for Dropcam , which Nest Labs purchased for $555 million back in June.