At its very early Unpacked 2021 event last week, Samsung didn’t just announce a new Galaxy S21 smartphone, Galaxy Buds Pro earbuds, and Galaxy Smart Tag trackers. It also announced a collaboration that made sense but few probably expected would ever happen. Samsung revealed that it was nurturing a closer relationship with Google, even in areas where they have competing products, bridging the gap between Samsung’s SmartThings IoT platform and Google’s Nest-branded devices and Android Auto car platform.
It’s really no surprise that Samsung is striking off on its own with SmartThings rather than just opt for using Google’s smart home ecosystem. After all, Samsung has long had a larger portfolio of home appliances, most of them made smart recently, and a longer experience in that market compared to Google. That, unfortunately, also means that you can’t really mix and match unless you happen to own IoT products that speak both Samsung’s and Google’s languages.
Before the year ended, Samsung and Google boasted that that problem will be a thing of the past, with Nest supporting Samsung SmartThings and Samsung Smart products supporting Google Assistant. Now that is becoming reality with Samsung reportedly flipping the switch on its end. Users have reported seeing the ability to add Google Nest devices in the SmartThings app, either by scanning for nearby devices or manually browsing by brand.
On the automotive side, Samsung is also reportedly turning on the Android Auto integration it announced last week. Also in the latest version of the SmartThings app, a new Android Auto section will let users select which functions will be made available from their car’s head unit to control. According to the report, only six items can be set, for now, probably to keep things simple.
Ideally, all these smart devices would really be speaking just one language to maximize their smartness. In reality, that will probably never be possible so bridges like these are the next best thing, especially when you consider that Samsung is pretty much giving way to Google.