Google's Nest Guard and the Pitfalls of Closed Platforms for Smart Homes

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will earn a commission, at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclosure here.

Nest, once an independent company, gained fame with its innovative smart thermostats, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and Wi-Fi security cameras. However, since its acquisition by Google, the now-branded Google Nest has made several forays into residential security, including the introduction of the Nest Guard in 2017. Despite its promise, Google has recently decided to retire the Nest Guard, highlighting a significant drawback of closed platforms.


Nest Guard: A Sleek Sentinel for the Smart Home

The Nest Guard was a stylish and intelligent security system featuring motion sensors, window sensors, a keypad, and NFC key fobs. To understand how it worked, let's consider the daily routine of someone leaving home for work and returning in the evening.

Image showing a Google Nest Guard security system. The main component is a round, white device with a keypad featuring numbers and function buttons. It has a blue ring light around the edge, indicating its status. Beside it, there is a set of keys attached to an NFC key fob, and a white sensor device. The background is a smooth, light grey surface. The overall design is sleek and modern.

Morning Departure

As you prepare to leave for work, you activate the Nest Guard system using the keypad or your NFC key fob. The system arms itself, setting all sensors to monitor your home. The motion sensors become alert to any movement within the house, while window and door sensors monitor entry points.

Imagine you leave through the front door, closing it behind you. The door sensor registers the door's closure and confirms that the system is now armed. As you walk away, you use your smartphone to check the status of your home through the Nest app, ensuring that everything is secure.

During the Day

While you're at work, the Nest Guard remains vigilant. Any unexpected motion detected inside the house or a window being opened would trigger the alarm. You would immediately receive a notification on your smartphone, allowing you to take appropriate action, such as contacting a neighbour or the authorities.

For example, if a window sensor detects an opening during the day, the Nest Guard would sound its alarm, and you'd get an instant alert on your phone. You could then use the app to view the live feed from your Nest cameras (if you have them) to assess the situation.

Evening Return

When you return home in the evening, the Nest Guard recognizes your NFC key fob as you approach the door. The system disarms itself, allowing you to enter without triggering the alarm. Alternatively, you could disarm the system using the keypad or the Nest app before stepping inside.

Once inside, the system switches to standby mode, ready to be armed again when you need it. You can check the Nest app to review any activity that occurred during the day, giving you peace of mind that your home remained secure while you were away.

Image of a Google Nest key fob used for the Nest Guard security system. The fob is round and white with the word “nest” embossed on its surface. It has a blue-grey strap at the top for attaching to a keyring. The design is simple and minimalistic, fitting in seamlessly with other Nest products.

The Undisclosed Microphone

Although the Nest Guard was well-received, it did spark controversy due to an undisclosed built-in microphone. This raised privacy concerns among users, although Google later explained that the microphone was intended for future features like Google Assistant integration.

Overall, the Nest Guard provided a comprehensive security solution for smart homes, seamlessly integrating with other Nest products to offer a cohesive and controlled environment. However, the reliance on Google's ecosystem and cloud services ultimately highlighted the limitations and risks associated with closed platforms.

The Sun Sets on Nest Guard

Recently, Google decided to retire the Nest Guard, leaving its users in a precarious situation. While Google Nest has assured users that their devices will continue to function for now, the underlying issue of a closed platform becomes evident. Closed platforms can significantly hinder seamless smart home integration, as many enthusiasts will attest.

Image showing a Google Nest Guard security system placed on a wooden surface. The device is round and white, featuring a keypad with raised buttons and a blue ring light around the top edge. A white cable connects the device to a power source. Nearby, a tray holds a set of keys and a wallet, highlighting its placement in a home environment. There is also a green plant visible on the left side of the image, adding to the domestic setting.

The Double-Edged Sword of Closed Platforms

A closed platform, or walled garden, can provide a curated, controlled environment but comes with a significant caveat: users are at the mercy of the manufacturer's decisions. If a product is deemed unprofitable, it may be discontinued, regardless of user reliance or affection for it. The reality is that companies prioritize profitability over individual user preferences.

The Cloud's Silver Lining Can Turn Gray

Many smart home products depend on cloud services, and when these services are discontinued, users are left stranded. The Logitech Harmony Link debacle is a prime example of this issue. With Google Nest ceasing sales of the Nest Guard and its accessories, users face uncertainty. A single faulty component could render the entire security system useless due to its limited compatibility with non-Nest products. This exclusivity, while fostering a seamless ecosystem, poses significant challenges for customers.

A Ticking Clock on Support

Even if your Nest Guard is currently supported, this support is not guaranteed indefinitely. Google may eventually decide that maintaining its cloud services is no longer viable. Nest Guard owners might have anticipated this scenario if they had considered Google's history of product support.

Choosing the Right Smart Home Products: Open the Door to Possibilities

At Home Assistant Guide, we advocate for avoiding closed platforms and cloud-dependent devices. When selecting smart home products, ensure there is a local API available. This provides a fallback if the manufacturer discontinues support. Products with hubs often offer local control when connected to the same network.

Embrace the Freedom of Open Systems

By “open,” we don't necessarily mean “open source.” Simply having local access to the device and a usable API can make a significant difference. My smart home setup revolves around Zigbee products, which use an open protocol similar to Wi-Fi. Using an application like Zigbee2MQTT, you can connect devices from various brands, such as IKEA, Philips, Gledopto, and Xiaomi, to the same hub.

The Beauty of Self-Sufficiency

My Home Assistant runs locally on my server, granting me complete independence. Even if the developers were to abandon the project, my system would continue functioning. My Zigbee devices communicate locally with Home Assistant, eliminating the need for cloud services. Additionally, Home Assistant's open-source nature means that, with some Python knowledge, I could further develop it if needed.

Nest Guard Alternatives: Exploring New Horizons

While I lack personal experience with residential alarm systems, many alternatives to the Nest Guard integrate well with Home Assistant. A quick search reveals various Home Assistant-compatible systems and a Reddit discussion on compatible alarm systems.

My smart home features numerous Zigbee sensors, and any door sensor that changes to an open state triggers a notification when I'm away. While this isn't the most advanced security system, there are more sophisticated options that support local control.

For hands-on homeowners, the DIY route offers numerous possibilities. ESPHome is compatible with several NFC readers, and NFC cards or key fobs are affordable and readily available online. With a few sensors and a soldering iron, you can create a custom security system inspired by the Nest Guard tailored to your needs.

Image of a Google Nest Guard security system hub. The device is a compact, round, white unit with a keypad featuring raised buttons and a blue ring light around the top edge. The front of the device has the word “nest” embossed, and the bottom portion is perforated, likely for ventilation or speaker functionality. The design is sleek and modern, consistent with the aesthetic of other Nest products.


Google's decision to discontinue the Nest Guard underscores the potential pitfalls of closed platforms. While they offer a seamless, curated experience, they can leave users vulnerable to manufacturer decisions. Opting for smart home products with local APIs and open protocols like Zigbee ensures greater flexibility and longevity. By embracing open systems and local control, you can build a robust and independent smart home setup that won't be rendered obsolete by corporate decisions.

A portrait photo oif Liam Alexander Colman, the author, creator, and owner of Home Assistant Guide wearing a suit.

About Liam Alexander Colman

is an experienced Home Assistant user who has been utilizing the platform for a variety of projects over an extended period. His journey began with a Raspberry Pi, which quickly grew to three Raspberry Pis and eventually a full-fledged server. Liam's current operating system of choice is Unraid, with Home Assistant comfortably running in a Docker container.
With a deep understanding of the intricacies of Home Assistant, Liam has an impressive setup, consisting of various Zigbee devices, and seamless integrations with existing products such as his Android TV box. For those interested in learning more about Liam's experience with Home Assistant, he shares his insights on how he first started using the platform and his subsequent journey.

Leave a comment

Share to...