For those of you who have read my article on the Internet of Things, you know that I’m wary of products that rely on servers from that company. Over the last couple of days, those with the Google Home smart hub product were hit with an outage that effectively caused their product to be paperweight.
The outage isn’t permanent but it points to a flaw for those pushing for everything to be “connected”. Devices like Google Home rely on Google servers to operate. Without an internet connection or if those servers are having issues, your product is essentially useless.
What happened to the days when you purchased a product and if that company went out of business, the only thing you lost out on was probably the 1 year manufacturer’s warranty, which nobody really used anyway. These days, if the company went out of business, your “connected” device is dead in the water.
Even though Google isn’t likely to go out of business any time soon or even at all, they aren’t perfect. Their first smart home hub, Revolv, was killed by them. Those who bought it were extremely upset because as soon as Google stopped supporting Revolv last year, those products literally became useless.
If you’re one who does have these types of devices, don’t be surprised if your device stops working one day because the company decided not to support them. The main reason why companies would do this is because they have a better product either already out on the market or coming soon.
It takes resources to support these connected devices. Many of you don’t realize the costs to maintain and support a global product such as Google Home. It’s not just one server, it’s a bank of servers. I don’t know the exact nature of the servers that Google uses but I have managed servers before for another company to know that it’s not simple and cheap.
And, it’s not only the hardware that is part of the cost. Supporting a connected device includes teams of developers and specialists. Even if they’ve stopped updating and upgrading the application behind the device, they still need to think about security updates to patch security holes as they are found. Which brings me to my next topic.
Aside from the inherent issue of a connected device I’ve talked about above, smart home hubs such as Google Home, Amazon Echo and Apple HomePod all have security concerns. Early on, some of the precursors of these smart homes had issues where a hacker can gain access and listen to everything happening in your home.
All of these smart home hubs are constantly listening for you to activate their features verbally. Because of this, the mic is always active. While smart home hubs are the “cool” thing to have, I’m not comfortable with them just yet. It’ll take time for me, even being a techie and gadget lover, to feel comfortable having these devices in my house.