Google is finally starting to see some heavy hitters coming up to bat against their Nest products, and the first popular contender is a company that was never really not on the scene. In fact, Honeywell was in the connected thermostat and home automation game long before Google started eying Nest. Honeywell is also the only one of the two with a thermostat on the market that you can buy from an HVAC contractor--and that kind of market deployment experience is something that Google should definitely be afraid of. Honeywell has been making devices for residential housing for a long, long time, and their HVAC game is strong.
But what really makes the Honeywell Lyric, the new thermostat recently announced last week, a real competitor for the space that Google Nest has captivated so thoroughly? A huge threat from Honeywell, as I've already mentioned, is their vast experience in this field, even in the field of smart thermostats. And Honeywell hasn't abandoned their old products to pursue the Lyric either--the Evohome system just got an update this week to support the smartwatch Pebble, and they're pairing with Apple's HomeKit. That's a pretty expansive push for integration, which is something the industry can only benefit from. The Honeywell Evohome was especially noteworthy because it allowed users to control multiple thermostats and change the temperate of rooms dynamically to fit that living space. This kind of tailored usage is something that obviously impacted the design of the Lyric.
Lyric's real defining feature right now is called Fine Tune. It's a system that combines geofencing strategies (RFID, GPS, etc.) with environmental sensors so that the thermostat isn't just reacting to a pre-programmed schedule, but is adapting live to your locations and conditions. You may have your thermostat programmed for every day of the week, but what about when you take off early one day? Your thermostat will see you coming using GPS, and despite it's predetermined schedule, will change to accommodate you when you get home--which includes looking at humidity and other factors that affect perceived temperature. It's not necessarily that the system is learning your schedule, just "adapting." This is the kind of intelligent behavior that many Internet of Things companies talk about extending to their products, but this is one of the first times we've really seen it in action, and built-in to a product launch.
In all likelihood, these kinds of features will be available to Nest users at some point. We're still very early in this market, and honestly it's going to be very difficult for companies to offer unique features. Both Nest and Lyric have similar aesthetics and integrate similarly, but they may play better with their own environments, so that's going to depend on if you already have a bunch of Honeywell appliances, etc. But still, it's an extremely exciting addition to the space, and Honeywell is a company with a real reputation--so I expect to see only good things.