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Nest’s network failed and people’s smart home devices went dark for 3 hours

What happens when your smart home has a brain lapse? Nest product owners found out last night when the network went down, cutting the digital connection.

Nest customers were still able to set the temperature on thermostats and lock and unlock doors manually, according to The Verge. It’s uncertain, however, if Nest’s alarm systems were functional during the dark period. A Digital Trends staff member who has Nest Protect, the smoke alarm, did not receive any notification from her app, nor did she receive an email alerting her of any problems.

Nest has not issued a formal statement about the incident. A series of tweets on the Nest Support Twitter page do reveal part of the story, however.

The drama started on Wednesday night at 11:30 p.m. ET when Nest Support tweeted, “We’ve received reports from Nest Secure and Nest x Yale Lock customers who are unable to arm/disarm or lock/unlock via the Nest app. Physical controls aren’t affected. We’re currently investigating this issue and will provide more info when available.”

We've received reports from Nest Secure and Nest x Yale Lock customers who are unable to arm/disarm or lock/unlock via the Nest app. Physical controls aren't affected. We're currently investigating this issue and will provide more info when available.

— Nest Support (@nestsupport) May 17, 2018

Shortly after the first message, Nest followed up, tweeting that customers were reporting problems with the Nest app, some of whom couldn’t get it to open.

Yep, we're also getting reports from some customers who are unable to load the Nest app at all. We're investigating this as well and will provide an update when more info is available. We're sorry for the inconvenience and we're working on a solution.

— Nest Support (@nestsupport) May 17, 2018

More than an hour later, Nest updated its earlier message, saying its app was working again on iOS, Android, and the web. The company was also working on restoring functionality to its devices, particularly the Nest Secure and Nest x Yale Lock. 

Update: the Nest app should load again on iOS, Android, and the web. We're still working on bringing all devices back online and restoring arm/disarm and lock/unlock functionality for Nest Secure and Nest x Yale Lock. We'll post another update when we have more info.

— Nest Support (@nestsupport) May 17, 2018

The final update, at 2:28 a.m. ET, announced that the problem was over. “Update: this issue is now resolved–thanks for your patience. The Nest app should now be fully responsive, including being able to arm/disarm Nest Secure and lock/unlock the Nest x Yale Lock. If you’re still having any issues, contact us by visiting nest.com/help.

Update: this issue is now resolved–thanks for your patience. The Nest app should now be fully responsive, including being able to arm/disarm Nest Secure and lock/unlock the Nest x Yale Lock. If you're still having any issues, contact us by visiting https://t.co/mnq22BsNT5

— Nest Support (@nestsupport) May 17, 2018

So for approximately three hours in the middle of the night when many people were sleeping, the digital control and protection promised by Nest’s internet-connected devices failed. It’s a good thing that physical overrides were built in, or people might have been locked in (or out) of their own homes.

If and when Nest issues a statement about what actually happened, we’ll cycle back with an update.

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Bruce Brown
Digital Trends Contributing Editor Bruce Brown is a member of the Smart Homes and Commerce teams. Bruce uses smart devices…
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