What’s new in smart home | Session
Hi, everyone, thanks for joining us for the Google Smart Home update. I’m Michelle Turner, Sr. director of product for the Smart Home ecosystem. I’m being joined by Umair Muhammad, partner engineering manager for Smart Home at Google. At Google, we believe there’s a revolution happening across the smart home industry.
It’s based on new, open technologies like Matter, as well as intelligence like Home and Away, to enable sophisticated automation and Google is leading the way. Our goal is to make the best smart home platform for you, our smart home developers, and of course our consumers. Building the best Smart Home platform means using trusted technology and intelligence to help develop your integrations faster, provide tools to drive your innovation, and allow you new paths to monetization. Over the last few years, we’ve published over 80 device types and 40 device traits that you can use to create an experience for your product. And today, Umair is going to talk about some great new features that take that experience further. Thanks to you, our developers, we have over 150 million devices connected to the Google Smart Home platform, and continue to see rapid global expansion.
This supports what we're seeing in the overall smart home industry. Together, we've helped grow the industry and hit some big thresholds. Today, there are over 276 million smart home households globally, and the industry continues to see solid year-over-year household growth. We’re excited to see how people continue to invest to make their home smarter. The work we’ve done as an industry is paying off. But to deliver on the full promise of the smart home, and see these numbers continue to grow, there’s still a lot of foundational work that we need to do.
The explosion of connected devices has enabled amazing new experiences for users across these device types. We've seen strong growth in all these categories, but especially connected lights, locks, cameras, appliances and doorbells. But let's be honest with ourselves.
These experiences remain fragmented, and that’s led to frustration and confusion for users at home and in stores. Users tell us they just want their products to work together more simply and seamlessly. This fragmentation is hard for device makers too. You want standardized tools and technologies so you can build great products and services, and easily maintain them in the future. We're focused on how Google can simplify the experience for both users and developers, so that our homes can do more for all of us, and to make it faster and easier for you to build great experiences on the Google platform, empowering you to grow your business. Just like Google originally organized the web to make it more accessible and useful for users and our partners, we’re using our technology and intelligence to make smart homes even more accessible and useful for our users and developers.
We’re on the cusp of a revolution in Smart Home, and today we’re going to show you how new capabilities in our platform are going to have a meaningful impact on the ecosystem. The technologies we’re leaning into to improve our platform, will create long-standing benefits to our industry, and we’re addressing one of the foundational issues with smart home: quality. So let’s talk about Google Smart Home platform. Our platform is comprised of the Smart Home API, our local technologies, Home Graph, Thread, and what we're adding with Matter. Additionally, Google is unique in that our platform also includes Android, iOS support touch and automation capabilities, that enable you to build on the leading edge of smart home technologies.
Let’s also be clear about Google’s smart home ecosystem. It’s not just about an app, a smart speaker, or a hub full of radios. The Google smart home ecosystem is all of us.
It’s Google products; It’s Philips Hue lights, Bosch appliances, Dish set-top boxes, Samsung SmartThings products, and so many more. We are committed to being the best platform for smart home experiences, but we can't do it without you. Building a truly helpful home means taking care of people, and helping them feel more in control of their homes no matter where they are. Google can do this better than anyone else, with mobile smart home controls thanks to Android & Goggle Home app, touch interfaces on our smart displays and of course, voice control across multiple devices. This gives your users more ways to engage with your devices, whether they’re new to smart home or power users with a hundred devices all intricately connected.
But to make the home more helpful, control needs to be simple. Together we need to build better ways for these devices to work together. Automation is critical to delivering on that helpful, simplified smart home experience, but we believe you need more than just automation. Context matters and context is enabled through our underlying intelligence layer. Of course to feel truly intelligent, the smart home needs to just work. These experiences need to meet users’ expectations for quality and reliability.
To help you drive engagement and growth, we know it needs to work the first time and every time. So, in 2021, we’re giving you more tools that offer better control over the quality of your integrations and working across the industry to improve the overall quality and reliability of the smart home. Finally, there are key technologies powering the smart home revolution.
Since the beginning, we’ve been deeply committed to Matter. We deployed millions of Thread-based devices and are ready to open them up to partners. UWB is an emerging technology being driven by Fira that we’re excited about as it has great implications for smart home going forward. Google brings all of these elements together in a way that no other platform does, one that weaves into the fabric of users’ lives just as we did with the web, makes the smart home more accessible and useful to everyone. By integrating your devices into the Google Smart Home platform, they become more accessible and useful too, growing your engagement and connection with your users.
Let’s look at all of the ways your devices can do more with Google. Voice is integral to the Google Smart Home platform, and with the Google Assistant, it's a natural interface to users' homes and lives. We’re making that interface more engaging for our partners this year, with smart mobile, display and voice notifications.
You'll be hearing about that and many more new capabilities shortly. We’ve also made significant updates to how users set up and interact with their homes on any phone with the Google Home app, but particularly on Android with power controls. Devices integrated with Google automatically get power controls in Android without any additional development. The same is true for controls on our displays, where we continue to make substantial improvements making them the central hub of the home, and bringing smart home controls front and center for easy access by voice or touch, helping your users engage with your experiences even when they’re away from their phone or your app. This breadth allows Google Smart Home platform, and with it, the experiences you’ve built, to weave seamlessly and naturally into user's homes and lives.
We’ve created tools for you to ensure your devices and experiences can be first-class citizens of Google Smart Home platform, and engage with users across all these services. But the true promise of the Smart Home isn’t just about better control. It's about homes that are more proactively and reactively helpful. Context-driven intelligence and automation is key to that vision, and that’s one of Google’s unique strengths With our release of Home and Away last year, users could take advantage of natural automations in their home based on presence, and scheduled Actions gave them the flexibility to run their routines when they’ll be most helpful.
We've also been focusing on intelligence that supports wellbeing. From improved routines that can turn on your outside lights and close your blinds at sunset, to Gentle Sleep and Wake, which works with most smart lights, and of course with the new Nest Hub’s sleep sensing capabilities. We’re continuing to expand on all of these areas with additional functionality for users to create more sophisticated routines, that will automatically work with your devices.
Finally, quality is critical to the smart home. Without great quality, users get frustrated. There are many aspects to quality. First is reliability, and we know that reliability is directly linked to engagement. We’re going to give you new tools that have better control over the reliability of your integrations. Umair will talk more about this.
We recently announced policy updates for our smart home partners to ensure your devices work more reliably and securely, and integrate more seamlessly into Google Smart Home platform. These policy updates compliment the privacy commitments that we made at I/O two years ago. Privacy and security are at the core of our smart home experience. Umair will show you how to use Google smart home Test Suite to deploy Actions that meet our quality guidelines, and moniter that quality before and after launch. Our new analytics tools provide insight into how your devices are performing, and let you dive deeper to resolve issues. We're also continuing to invest in technologies that do more locally, like Seamless setup over BLE, which gets users started with your devices seconds out of the box.
We’re opening this up to all developers starting today. We also continue to see usability benefits from app flip and app scan, features that let users easily link their accounts in device makers’ apps with Google Smart Home. Looking forward, we’re increasing our to key technologies that make the smart home more performant, less fragmented, and easier to use. Let’s talk about some of those technologies that we’re leading the industry in today. One of those key technologies is Thread. Thread is gaining adoption because it’s IP based, is great for low-power devices, and enables a responsive, reliable mesh network between devices in the home.
Thanks to these features, Thread has been used to create some great IoT and smart home experiences. And we should know, Google was one of the founding companies in Thread, and we've been using it in millions of our deployed products since 2017. We’re excited to see the industry adoption of Thread starting to expand rapidly. To help more partners to use Thread in Google’s smart home ecosystem, we knew it needed to be more ubiquitous. We’ve been building it into our key Nest products, that are part of our user smart home infrastructure, like the Nest Hub Max, the new Nest Hub and Nest Wifi. All of these devices will be able to serve as both a Smart Home hub, and a Thread border router.
One of the great things about Thread is that as a network technology like Wi-Fi, it’s application layer agnostic, letting you run a wide variety of applications over it. But for devices to be able to do useful things together in the smart home, they need to be running the same application protocol. It's like the difference between having the same radio and speaking the same language over that radio.
While we could make our own application layer for partners to use, the last thing we want to do is create a new area of fragmentation with device vendors having to do development efforts for each ecosystem, which is especially challenging on low-power devices. With that goal in mind, we’ll be opening up widespread support for Thread across our capable devices, exclusively using the forthcoming new universal smart home application protocol being developed by Matter. Let’s talk about why we believe Matter is a breakthrough in the smart home for both users and developers, and how Google plans to support it across our entire smart home ecosystem so that you can build compelling experiences on top of it.
Today’s smart home is challenging for users to know what to buy and how to set up these devices when they get home. For device makers, the fragmentation at the application layer is expensive to develop and maintain, and can lead to more unstable integrations. Matter solves these problems by creating a new, universal, open smart home application protocol, that makes setting up and controlling smart home devices, and maybe more importantly, building them, as easy as USB. Google and other leading and innovative companies from across industry have come together with the open collaborative infrastructure of the Connectivity Standards Alliance to develop Matter. We brought our best practices and market-proven technologies to make it a robust, secure and deployable technology that solves real-world problems. Google is a major contributor to Matter, from engineering resources to contributed code.
The benefits of Matter are more than theoretical. One of the unprecedented features of Matter is it doesn’t follow the usual chicken/egg problem new standards have while waiting for adoption. Matter already has broad support and commitment from major ecosystems, hundreds of device makers participating, and dozens who are already building devices today, and we'll be ready for them.
We’re proud to announce that we will be certifying existing Nest devices with Matter, when the standard is formally launched. That means when you build devices with Matter, they can be easily set up with the Google Home app and controlled by millions of users already using Google speakers and displays, Google Assistant, and Android power controls. Plus, the newest Nest Thermostat will get updated to support Matter, meaning for the first time, it can be controlled on other platforms that have certified with Matter. We’ll be building support for Matter directly into Android, making setup of Matter devices seamless. Users can set their device up with their favorite apps, including the Google Home app, in just a few simple steps.
We’re also creating tools to help you customize that flow, and make the experience even easier for users, with integrated branding and set up help for more complex devices. To make it easier to integrate your Matter devices with Google, we’re updating our Developer center. There’s support for embedded development, mobile integration for both Android developers through Google Play services, and tools for iOS developers, seamless integration into the Google platform, the ability to build new automations and new test and analytics tools. All designed for you to be able to develop your integration faster so that you can get your products in the market sooner. With support and active development from ecosystems and device makers across the smart home industry, we’re looking forward to a rapid rollout of Matter devices once the standard is launched. In fact, we’re already getting started with some leaders in the smart home industry on early Matter integrations, and helping their Matter devices do more with Google.
We'll have more details later this year. As expected, many of the leading Silicon vendors are already working with us in the Matter working group to provide the best Silicon support and development tools. All of these Silicon vendors can help you get started with Matter today. Kevin and Don will cover more on this in their Getting Started with Project CHIP, aka Matter, talk.
Check out that session and learn about Matter and how to start building devices today. While we’re very excited about our work on Matter, we know not all of you are ready to get started with Matter now. With hundreds of millions of your devices already in homes, and more being developed every day, we’re always working to help you make them more accessible, engaging and reliable for users, and making it easier for users to grow their smart homes. I’m going to hand it over to Umair who’ll take you through the latest capabilities that we've developed for you to create your best experiences with Google. Thank you, Michelle.
In order to provide better visibility to our developers on what Google expects from their integrations, we now document as part of the device guides the required and recommended experiences, as well as the details around success and latency metrics. Partners can now give users the option to opt out of secondary user verification, as long as there are appropriate flows to allow users to opt-in later if they need to. These integrations continue to require high-quality report state and request sync implementations.
We also require that you maintain a persistent connection to your cloud service and implement account linking following the OAuth 2.0 standard with a proper access and refresh token lifecycle. Smart home data that resides in Home Graph remains, as always, separated from Ad services. So Home Graph data is never used to present an ad to the user. To help our developers comply with these policy updates, we have updated our Test Suite which will help you find issues with your implementation prior to you submitting your action.
To help ensure that quality remains high, we now require that partners submit recertification tests on a regular yearly basis for all devices, or when developers update the functionality of their Action. And if your device happens to be an appliance, like a room heater, anything that might have a safety implication, then please also upload the safety regulation documents you already have for your device. This can be a UL certificate, or similar. Since launching Home and Away last November, we’ve experienced a dramatic increase in Smart Home usage. Home and Away routines has offered nearly a million users effortless energy savings by simply turning off lights and thermostats when the home owner is away.
We are also doubling down this year to make routines even more useful around partner devices and their capabilities through new traits, conditions, and triggers. We are extending and enhancing what we’ve launched so you can get more value from your devices, and they can work harder for you. Our partners inherit this as a native Google Home app feature. To maintain a great experience on routines, partners can follow device guides that cover the quality requirements.
To further empower partners and developers, we continue to expand on analytics we provide to you through the Actions on Google Console. Analytics will provide you the visibility you need to maintain a high level of performance and reliability for your Action. Analytics are a combination of metrics that help you determine where your Action is having trouble and logs that let you deep dive to solve the problem. These tools will help filter, visualize, monitor and export your log data to help you better understand it. Analytics enables you to create a debug loop for your development experience.
You can continue to review errors as you develop. A rinse and repeat cycle helps raise the quality of your integration. We have expanded on the granularity of the error code significantly to help reduce debugging times.
Click the analytics section in your Actions on Google project to learn more. We have a great workshop that developers can attend, which will help them debug their smart home integrations. Be sure to sign up for that.
There are multiple ways to integrate into the Google ecosystem. You are already aware of the cloud-to-cloud integration, and many partners have already done the local fulfillment optimization. Seamless setup for BLE devices is another way our partners can onboard into the Google ecosystem. Since the announcement of Local Home SDK back in Google I/O 2019, we have turned on millions of devices with some of our early partners.
Now we’re opening the program to any developer wanting to onboard their devices into the Google Home app. So if you have a light, plug or a switch device, and you would like to benefit from a seamless experience within the Google Home app, then Seamless setup over BLE is the ideal developer experience. Our partners have built some really cool apps for their devices with great user experiences. Unfortunately, one of the first experiences users have is setting up and juggling those apps to connect it to an ecosystem before they even get to experience the magic of their device. Seamless setup for BLE devices solves this first impression issue, by enabling users to set up their device in a couple of taps directly in the Google Home app, so they can experience your device within seconds with a path to add your app, or saving you from building an app with a cloud connection in the first place. We recognize that the number one challenge to smart home adoption is device setup.
Actions could require more than 10 steps to set up, and a user may end up with multiple apps as well. Seamless setup for BLE devices solves this problem for the user by making the experience native within the Google Home app. Today, there are millions of devices that have onboarded through the Seamless setup. More than 33% of Seamless setup users are first-time Google Smart Home users. It has been a strong driver for rapid adoption.
Developers don’t have to spend time and resources on developing their own app, they don’t have to rely on a hub, Google takes care of the backend cloud services associated with it, and it reduces services costs for maintaining an integration, and it comes with Google branding for your product. This experience is also over four times faster than a cloud integration based on our measurements. Keep an eye out on the Google Developers page for documentation. Another feature we believe to be a key part of a smart home integration is notifications.
This helps users know who's at the door, when the laundry is done, or much more critical, be notified of a door not locking properly through a spoken notification over Nest device or a banner on the Nest Hub. Notifications will continue to launch per select traits. We’re starting with object detection for devices like cameras and doorbells, run cycle for appliances like washers and dryers, sensor state for sensors that can be around in the home. We also support asynchronous notifications for select traits this as well. For example, lock/unlock. These types of notifications are great when immediate feedback is needed after performing an action.
For example, a door jamming after issuing a lock command. In this case, the notification will be played on the same device that the user issued the command on. The notifications are controllable at the partner device level or at the Nest device level within the Google Home app as part of do not disturb settings. Please visit the Developer documentation for the latest set of notification support for traits.
Cameras are a significant part of our ecosystem today. Doorbells, indoor and outdoor cameras drive the security use case for smart home. To support a better user experience, we are now adding the support for WebRTC for camera devices. This one is a super exciting feature. Now our users can have the best-in-class streaming experience on Nest Hub, and on their phones over WebRTC.
WebRTC is an HTML5 specification that you can use to add real-time media communication between a Nest Hub and your camera. It is by far the best experience all leading camera manufacturers are supporting today. Now, when you read through our documentation, WebRTC will be the recommended protocol for streaming cameras and doorbells, under the camera stream trait. WebRTC will be replacing support for existing protocols such as HLS and Dash by 2022. As you can see, we have a repeating theme around quality. We want to help the developer to have as much information and tools to create the best possible user experience.
To that effect, we have been updating the Test Suite. The Test Suite is a web-based tool that lets you exercise your action from an end user's perspective. The tool covers all device types and traits. There are some exceptions for security devices, which we prefer to add additional testing for.
We recommend that you run the Test Suite frequently, and also make it part of your debug loop. Even after launching the Action, we require that you submit test results at least once a year, or whenever you add new functionality to your Action. These requirements are now part of our smart home policy. Another way that developers can integrate with us is Device Access. This is for developers that want to control Nest devices such as the Nest Thermostat.
For developers that previously did works with Nest integrations, this is the program you should look into. The Device Access console provides the documentation and tools to enable partners to develop, test and launch their integrations with Nest devices. This program isn’t only for enterprise-level partners. It is also for the developer community that are looking to create solutions within a private environment. Developers can experience the full set of features of this program within a sandbox without needing the added requirement of doing a security assessment on a yearly basis.
In the hobbyist community today, we have over 15,000 developers creating Device Access integrations. For large scale integration that enable our partners to create meaningful and robust solutions with Nest devices, a rigorous security assessment program is available for them that enables them to launch an amazing experience for their users. Today, we have several partners that have built experiences in their apps that include Nest devices, be it adding a thermostat control through a home security system, or be able to watch the kids play in the backyard on your smart fridge. Device Access lets you extend the use cases of your products, by building in control of Nest devices. Be sure to check it out.
We have many more developer-focused sessions planned out throughout Google I/O. Do attend the CHIP and the Smart Home Debug sessions for deeper dives with our team. We remain committed to our developer community by opening up experiences that make the Google Assistant more accessible. Thank you very much for joining us today, and we look forward to all the amazing Google Actions you will build.