Smart Devices Aren’t Smart

5 June, 2019

It seems that Google Cloud (which powers various businesses and applications and devices) suffered an outage on early June, 2019. And, as when these sorts of things happen, the online shock, surprise, and (of course) outrage begins.

Here’s a text of a tweet that a friend sent my way:

So we finally got AC, right? Google is down. We have a Nest thermostat. Nest runs on Google Cloud. Can’t turn on AC because app is down. Neat.

Once again, evidence for a point that I’ve been trying to hammer home for a few years now. That point? Smart devices aren’t smart. At all. I mean, how can they be?

Their brains reside somewhere else, on someone else’s computer. When that computer, or your connection to it, goes bye-bye then your device morphs into a useless lump of plastic and metal. It becomes a conversation piece. It becomes a source of frustration. It’s pretty much useless.

This is the reason I prefer, wherever possible, to have a so-called dumb device. A dumb thermostat. A dumb fridge. A dumb TV. Sure, those devices may not be fancy or cutting edge but I can be assured they’ll work. I don’t have to worry about them becoming less than what they’re supposed to be when a service gets cut off or a company goes belly up.

Scott Nesbitt