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Nest Protect smoke detector gets an upgrade, still no gesture control

Nest Labs' Protect 2.0 software improves its smart smoke/CO detector, but the broken Wave gesture control feature is still conspicuously missing.

Lindsey Turrentine/CNET

As much as we liked the Nest Protect smart smoke and CO detector when it launched, a subsequent recall due to its malfunctioning gesture controls dampened our enthusiasm. The new Protect 2.0 software, available today as a free download, doesn't solve the gesture problem, but it also adds enough to the Protect to alleviate at least some of that disappointment.

The new features are mostly comprised of expanded informational content in the app, but a previously unused humidity sensor built into the Protect also plays a part. For the sensor, Nest Labs says that it enables a new feature called Smoke Check, which can distinguish between smoke and steam. Now you won't trigger the smoke alarm just by opening the bathroom door after a hot shower.

Nest says Smoke Check will eliminate approximately half of the steam-based false alarms you might experience. Nest also says that this is a feature it wanted to build into Protect from the start, but without a silver bullet for the Wave gesture control scheme, Smoke Check also seems to throw a bone to those disappointed by the loss of Wave.

The other features all reside in the Nest's iOS and Android control apps. Now you can tweak the brightness of the Pathlight motion-activated LED nightlight built into the Protect. If Protect is hardwired into your wall, you can also set the LED to permanent nightlight mode.

CO levels are now visible in the app, and you can also see the strength and the duration of the CO readings. What To Do 2.0 will walk you and your family through planning an emergency escape route. A Safety History feature lets you track alarm events. The Protect now works on hidden wireless networks, if that's your thing. Nest Labs has also added French and Dutch language support.

This upgrade doesn't mean the company has given up on fixing Wave. Nest Labs says they are still actively working for a way to stop certain gestures from unintentionally dismissing the alarm. The price will also remain at $99 (£89), down from the $129 launch price when now-disabled Wave was a selling point.