I’ve got a lot of Google products in my house, and some of the devices such as the Nest Hub have a neat little feature that allows them to listen for things like glass shattering or a smoke detector going off.
For the most part the notices I’ve received have been the sounds of me or my wife breaking something by accident in the kitchen, or just the loudness of dishes, but on Sunday I got a notice about a smoke detector going off (as heard by a Nest Hub,) and completely didn’t notice it. That’s a major problem and happened for a few reasons.
The first reason I didn’t notice it is because it was using the system default notification sound. I have no idea how to convey that using the default means I have no particular incentive to rush and check my phone. By default that could be mail, a text message, a news flash, a notice my kid installed a game, or maybe I’ve been scouted in Last Shelter: Survival. I have been changing all my app sounds lately, but the Nest is still default.
By default there’s no particular urgency thought out about the notifications – a potential fire at my house and my kid installing something called Hamster Tap Ultimate create the same level of urgency. Beep bip boop.
We can change the notification pretty easily as long as we’ve received it by choosing something else to play, but for the majority of users I don’t think they’re going to have a very long and loud annoying sound to play to get their attention on their phone.
The other issue is that glass breaking, smoke detectors, these are things that need to be addressed… I need to know there’s an issue and not that maybe it’s time to play a crossword puzzle. But also with Nest Aware thinking a Roomba is a person, or than when a cloud goes over the house that suddenly my daughter’s Kristoff sticker on the wall is a person to the camera, these notifications need separated and prioritized.
Also Sticker Kristoff is not a person, regardless of what Nest and my 5yo think.
For me, this was a wakeup call that the notification side of the Nest ecosystem really really needs work. No option to keep bugging me when there’s a potential fire? No options for notify me if person is spotted in multiple rooms but not just the one room? This is not a good notification system. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love the backend of Nest, but the ability by default to make a notification of a smoke detector going off for minutes sound the same as it being time to wash a kitty in My Talking Angela 2 is an utter failure on the notification side.
Google and Nest have built an amazing system, except for that. And maybe the telling me a person was in a room when it’s very obviously Rhonda.
Side note – it was pancakes, slightly burnt but mostly just smoky.