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Nest thermostat update tracks the sun to keep temperatures steady

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Gallery Photo: Nest 2G hands-on
Gallery Photo: Nest 2G hands-on

After rolling out a new version of its Learning Thermostat last year, Nest is back with a software update, this one in time for the summer months. Version 3.5 of the Nest's firmware is a combination of clever tricks and updates to its core features. One of the most interesting changes is a data-driven solution to a fairly basic problem: spikes in temperature as the sun passes over a thermostat. To fix this, the Nest will now look for these fluctuations with its light and heat sensors; after a day of tracking, it will figure out when a temperature change is actually just an errant sunbeam and avoid lowering the temperature to compensate.

For extremely humid areas, the Nest now also includes a mold-fighting system. During periods of particularly high humidity, it will automatically turn on the air conditioning system in order to keep the house dry, rather than keeping it on all the time or waiting for users to set it. More generally, there are now extra settings to control the fan, as well as tweaks to the mobile app that will let the Nest send you messages about necessary upkeep. Just like last year, Auto-away—which senses when you're away and adjusts the heat accordingly—has also been improved: while the last update allowed it to kick in soon after you leave the house, it's now supposed to more accurately predict when you'll be coming home as well.

For anyone whose first- or second-generation thermostat is connected to Wi-Fi, Version 3.5 will be available no later than 9pm EDT tonight. As Nest announced last week, there are also a couple of features only for people on partnered utility grids. Nest's energy company partnerships are a big part of its strategy going forward, but with this update, ordinary users aren't getting left out.