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Google Home’s web preview is live — and it’s missing most features

If you’ve got a Nest camera and have been dying to give it a go as part of Google’s new web preview, it’s time. Head to home.google.com and have a look. Just be prepared to be largely underwhelmed and to remind yourself that it indeed is in preview status.

The Google Home web preview is live, but sparse. You can view cameras (here, in a grid), but that’s it. Image used with permission by copyright holder

There are a few reasons for that. First is that you’ll need to have a supported camera, which right now includes Nest Cam (battery and wired), Nest Cam with floodlight, Nest Doorbell (first-generation, and the wired model Gen 2 model), Nest Cam Indoor, and indoor and outdoor models of Nest Cam and Nest Cam IQ.

You’ll also need to make sure you’ve already migrated your Nest account to a proper Google login. Then once you hit the website, you’ll see just how limited this preview is at present. You’re able to toggle things off and on and view feeds from your cameras, but that’s it. There’s no audio, and you’re not able to use a microphone to talk back to anyone within view.

You’re currently able to view cameras in a grid view — which lets you see more than one at a time — or one at a time in a list view. You also can toggle all cameras off or on at once, if you want.

Google Home preview in list view.
The Google Home preview lets you view cameras as a list, but just one at a time. Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you’re a current Nest user and are used to the browser experience at home.nest.com, it’s definitely sparse — particularly if you have other devices like a Nest Thermostat, Nest Protect smoke detector, or the discontinued (but very much still operational) Nest Secure home security system. None of those devices show up in the Google preview. And the newest generation of Nest Doorbell (which wears the Google logo on its chest) doesn’t actually show up in the Nest app and instead must be worked from the newly redesigned Google Home app or viewed from the home.google.com preview site.

We’ve tested on Chrome and Safari on desktop, and both browsers work fine. You also can give it a go on mobile if you want — though there’s really no reason to do that. The latest Nest Doorbell works on mobile Chrome and Safari, but other cameras don’t.

In other words, it’s a bit of a mess right now. It’s not yet obvious if this is part of a larger shift completely away from the Nest brand, though you have to imagine that’s sort of the point of the transition.

For now, just be happy with the ability to view the latest Nest Doorbell (again, the one with the Google logo) from a web browser, utilize most everything from the Google Home app (save for the Nest Secure, which absolutely requires the Nest app), and hope devices don’t get lost in the shuffle.

Because it’s probably going to be a bumpy ride.

Phil Nickinson
Phil spent the 2000s making newspapers with the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, the 2010s with Android Central and then the…
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