The Broken Internet of Things

Ed Zitron
5 min readSep 21, 2022

We live in a time when a great deal of consumer electronics seem to work like magic — you walk into your house, tap a few buttons, and you can have exactly the song you want playing in exactly the room you want. This is in large part thanks to the variety of different systems that companies like Apple, Sonos and Google have built to streamline your life, consolidating your speakers, lights and music into one cohesive experience.

This is, of course, until something goes wrong, at which point these “seamless” experiences somehow become singularly impossible to fix.

I made the seemingly-smart decision a few years ago to use Google and Nest products around my house, believing that doing so would mean that my house would be a beautiful, unified utopia where all my things worked. I went with Sonos for speakers, again lying to myself that there would be no issues, because these setups “just work,” as they have in the past.

Except, as you’ve probably worked out, this is not remotely the case.

It makes sense to start with the single stupidest thing I’ve witnessed in consumer electronics: it is harder to add a new Nest device to your home if you already have other Nest devices. One would think that this would be easier — your settings are saved, it “knows” you, and so on — except doing so requires you dealing with Google’s “Home” app, one of the single worst-designed devices in history. To add a device to your network — a thing that should be very easy — requires you to create a distinct “home” in your house, and then add devices to it.

The problem is that when you try and add a device to said “home,” Nest decides that instead of simply connecting to the network, your networked devices must connect to each other. I’m sure this made sense to somebody, but as you can guess, the problem here becomes when the devices cannot satisfactorily connect to each other. Again, one might think the natural response is to decide to connect to your router, but you would also be wrong, as the actual choice that Google makes at this point is to give up. If it can’t connect to your other devices for whatever reason, you cannot set the device up.

A completely bizarre and stupid workaround is to create another “home” in your house, meaning that the Nest device no longer seeks to connect to others.

Except Google has a limit on how many homes you can create, and sometimes the device arbitrarily decides that, despite you…

Ed Zitron

CEO @EZPR . British. 2x author, writer @thisisinsider , @TheAtlantic — Top 50 @bitech tech PR 4x — — The BBQ Joker