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Smart Home

More smart device makers sign up to work with Nest

The smart thermostat and smoke detector company adds a smartwatch, a voice-recognition device, and a connected sprinkler system to its Works with Nest roster of partner products.

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Lindsey Turrentine/CNET

Nest Labs made its first big partner announcement back in June when it kicked off its Works with Nest developer program with the likes of Mercedes Benz, Whirlpool, and Logitech. Today brings Nest's next round of partnerships. The names aren't as high-profile this time around--the Pebble smartwatch is the most well known--but the expanding roster of partners solidifies Nest's position as a smart home platform, rather than just a maker of pretty Internet-connected widgets.

Along with Pebble, Nest announced Ivee , Life360, SNUPI, and Rachio as the new Works with Nest partner companies. Like the original round of partnerships, these new ones offer products with a diverse set of functions, voice-recognition in the case of Ivee to outdoor sprinkler system control from Rachio.

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You can now control your Nest Learning Thermostat via Pebble smart watch. Sarah Tew/CNET

Also similar to the first set of partner products, the interactions between devices are designed to be hands-off and very controlled. For Pebble, Nest says you will be able to use the Leaf Pebble app to monitor and adjust the temperature of your Nest Learning Thermostat and set home and away modes. That's it. It offers no Pebble-integrated scheduling, nor ties to any other Pebble functions.

Nest has said previously that the idea behind that limited interaction is to keep things safe and easy to use. Given Nest's ties to critical pieces of home infrastructure, the company can't give its partners free reign lest they somehow interfere with safety and comfort of your home. By carefully matching features between Nest's products and partner devices, the hope is the device interactions will be targeted and useful enough that you won't want to change anything.

SNUPI Technologies WallyHome leak, temperature, and humidity sensor is a good example. Normally, Nest will read the temperature of its immediate surroundings and adjust accordingly. If you'd rather the Nest respond to the temperature in another room, you can now use WallyHome as the sensor that gives the Nest that remote reading.

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Ivee, can you hear me? Colin West McDonald/CNET

This is all great provided everything works, of course. My colleague Megan Wollerton wasn't impressed with Ivee's Sleek voice-recognition system when she reviewed it a few months ago. Nest is promising that Sleek will let you adjust the temperature via voice, but few things make technology feel more awkward than a one-sided conversation with a piece of hardware.

The other interactions from Nest's new partners seem useful enough. Link your Nest Thermostat to the Life360 smartphone family tracking app and it will let your thermostat know who, if anyone in your family, is on the premises to make sure it doesn't go into Home or Away mode at the wrong time.

Smart sprinkler system Rachio, along with LIFX color-changing light bulbs from the inaugural Works with Nest partner list, is one of the few products that work with the Nest Protect smoke detector. If your Protect senses smoke for an extended time period, Rachio will turn the sprinklers on in your yard, to help stop any fire from spreading.

Nest has added support for a few other products independent of these big group announcements. It brought its recent acquisition DropCam into the fold last month, and it paired up with Big Ass Fans connected Haiku fan the month before that. That Nest is becoming a full-blown platform for the smart home is really no question. Expect it to continue adding partners (not least due to its device funding program, the Thoughtful Things Fund), but it will also be interesting to see how it maintains tight control over its own platform as device makers feel pressure to work with multiple smart home product lines.