Nest announces a press conference, but what’s it announcing?

Back in March, Nest, the Google-owned learning thermostat company, posted a job for a Head of Audio, saying it was looking for someone who could develop “an audio roadmap” for Nest’s hardware and software “that can support delightful user experiences and innovative features.” This led to speculation Nest could be expanding into speaker-production but with a smart-home bent.

Now Nest has announced it’s holding a press conference June 17. The bare-bones invitation merely said, “Please join us for a Nest press conference,” so while it’s not promising a new product, that’s definitely a distinct possibility. The company’s mission is turning “unloved” products into “simple, beautiful, thoughtful things, so a simple speaker doesn’t really fit the mold of thermostats and smoke detectors.

When Amazon first unveiled its Echo, the Bluetooth speaker was just sort of a voice-activated novelty that could spout off facts about the height of the Space Needle or tell you the weather. Slowly, Amazon rolled out new features for the Echo, including smart-home control and hands-free shopping.

Users can already control Nest thermostats using voice commands, and whatever the mystery product could also incorporate the power of Google Now.

If Nest (and Google) really is taking a deeper dive into the smart home, its speaker would likely have a different focus than the Echo. After all, Amazon is first and foremost a retailer; it’s bringing its Dash technology to everything it can get its hands on. Of course, Google has its own “buy” button in the works, too, but it really wants to be the center of your smart home. “Works with Nest” is a big part of that, as are its recently announced Internet of Things platform, Brillo, and common language, Weave, which lets devices talk to each other.

Nest’s announcement will come just after Apple’s June 8 Worldwide Developers Conference, where the company is expected to reveal more details about its own smart-home framework, HomeKit. Users can control HomeKit-compliant products with Siri, so it wouldn’t be terribly surprising if Nest wanted to beef up its own voice-control capabilities when it comes to the smart home.

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