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Review: Nest’s 3rd Gen Learning Thermostat adds a better screen + wall clock to the market’s best temperature controller


By now, Nest’s story is quite well known: founder Tony Fadell left Apple after co-inventing the original iPod, founding Nest to re-imagine neglected home devices with modern designs and features. Nest started with the Nest Learning Thermostat, which made HVAC programming and remote management easy — really for the first time — then released the Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm, and after acquiring Dropcam, the Nest Cam home security camera. Now owned by Google, Nest has closely followed Apple’s strategy of refined iteration upon past designs, releasing the Nest Learning Thermostat 2nd Gen and Nest Protect 2nd Gen as modestly but meaningfully tweaked sequels to address rough edges and omissions.

Yesterday, the company announced and released the Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Gen ($249), which looks familiar at first glance. Still shaped like a metal-clad circle, Nest’s latest Thermostat is a hint thinner than its predecessors, yet sports a larger, higher-resolution screen that can optionally be used as an analog or digital clock. As a satisfied user of the 2nd Gen Thermostat for my home’s downstairs heating system, I bought the 3rd Gen Thermostat to replace the old control panel I had upstairs. Here are my thoughts on Nest’s latest product…


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Nest app update rolling out soon with refreshed interface, Nest Protect compatibility, and more


The Nest Learning Thermostat and its companion iPhone app are receiving up new updates soon, according to a post on the Nest blog. The updated app will get a full makeover, including easier access to certain settings and functions of the Nest thermostat. Also included in the new app is support for the Nest Protect smoke detector.

The app’s new interface will make it easier to check or set the status of your Nest thermostat.

Pretty much everything you need to know is there at first glance:

  • The temperature outdoors, visible on the top left.
  • The weather, now with animated clouds, shimmering blue skies or swirls of snow.
  • A big button that lets you instantly switch between home and away. No more tilting your phone into landscape mode to set Away manually.
  • The temperature you’ve set on your Nest Thermostat. If it’s not currently heating or cooling, the thermostat icon will be black. As heat or AC turns on, it’ll turn orange or blue.
  • An icon representing all the Nest Protects in your home. If everything’s ok, you’ll see a green ring. If you’re getting a Heads-Up or Emergency Alarm, the ring will change color to yellow or red.

The update will also introduce new features for the Nest Protect:

  • Every alarm in your home will be listed by room name, and you’ll be able to quickly scan to see if everything’s ok.
  • You’ll see basic status—green, yellow or red—for both smoke and carbon monoxide.
  • “Last update” indicates the last time your Nest Protect connected to Wi-Fi, reporting the status of its batteries and sensors. Assuming there’s no emergency, this happens every half hour in a wired Nest Protect and, to save power, every 24 hours in a battery-powered Nest Protect. If there’s a Heads-Up or an emergency, Nest Protect immediately connects to Wi-Fi to update its status and send you a message in the app.
  • “Last manual test” refers to the last time you manually tested Nest Protect by pushing the Nest button. We recommend testing monthly—it can be a regular fire drill with your family.
  • “Battery life” just tells you if you have to replace your batteries or not.

Finally, the thermostat itself will be getting a few enhancements via an automatic software update. The new software includes features such as “quiet time” mode, changes to its heating algorithm to help keep energy costs down during the winter, and more.

  • Quiet Time is a brand new 4.0 feature that allows you to set times when noisy stand-alone humidifiers and dehumidifiers won’t turn on, regardless of the humidity. That can keep the house quiet in critical moments, like your kid’s afternoon nap.
  • Heat Pump Balance is getting an upgrade, making Balanced and Comfort settings more efficient and using multiple stages of heat for pre-heating.
  • Your Nest Thermostat is now smarter about when to switch between fuel types in dual-fuel systems in order to better protect your system and provide more consistent heating.
  • Your Nest Protect and Nest Thermostat can now connect to improve the Auto-Away algorithm and shut down your heating system if there’s a CO emergency.

The updated app will be rolling out in the iTunes Store in the next few days. The software update on the thermostat will be applied automatically.