Nest Protect’s Wi-Fi Smoke, CO2 Monitor

The first smoke detector you can control with an app. Photo courtesy Nest

Nest Protect is a Wi-Fi smoke and carbon monoxide monitor, the first smoke detector that you can control with an app. It sends notifications to your phone to let you know when everything is normal in your home and sends alerts when your detectors find smoke or other dangers. If you have a Nest thermostat, the app will let you control that as well.

“With our first product, the Nest Learning Thermostat, we set out to help people reduce home energy use,” says Tony Fadell, Nest founder and chief executive officer. “Now we’re turning our attention to something that’s also important: keeping families safe in their homes. We’ve all experienced the smoke alarm going off while we’re cooking or searched for the source of that incessant low-battery chirp in the middle of the night. Every time a smoke alarm cries wolf, we trust it a little less, and then – in a moment of frustration – we rip the batteries out to stop the beeping. And that leaves us and our families at risk.”

When your Nest Protect sees that smoke or CO levels are rising but have not yet reached emergency alarm levels, it gives you an early warning to avoid giving you a false reading. You can silence alarms with a simple wave of your hand rather than waving a big towel or having to stand on a stool to search for the button. The sensors include a photoelectric smoke sensor, a CO sensor, heat sensor, light sensor, ultrasonic sensors and activity sensor. Together they analyze smoke and CO levels.

If you already have a Nest Thermostat, the smoke detectors really serve a second purpose – as sentinels to tell your thermostat that you’re still home. While you probably shouldn’t buy a Nest Protect for the ability to trigger your thermostat, it’s a nice extra that always can create room for expansion to Nest-ize your house. The more rooms you have with Nest-powered sensors, the more devices can speak to one another with the Nest app (ranging from security cameras to light bulbs!).

Nest Protect will be available in November for $129 (white or black) at Amazon, Apple, Best Buy and Home Depot.

Click Chick’s Mobile App of the Week: WhatsApp

WhatsApp Messenger lets you chat for free with anyone else who owns the app and offers a few extra useful features to make text messaging more fun. With this chat app installed on your smartphone, you’ll save a little money on text charges through your carrier and across platforms.

With more than 300 million users, WhatsApp recently added on a voice feature that allows you to record and send voice messages with the simple touch of the mic button. This is particularly convenient if you just want to say something to your friend(s) and you know they’re unavailable. Similar to iOS, you’ll see

your chats in text bubbles and it gives you a time stamp for messages, notifies you when a text has been viewed by your recipient, and lets you share photos, audio notes and videos within your conversations.

You also can change your background and send your GPS location to an interactive map. Additionally, you can broadcast your status with premade notes such as “Available,” “I’m busy,” or “My battery is about to die.” WhatsApp also will pull automatically from your phone’s contacts and indicate which of them are using the app.

WhatsApp used to cost 99 cents, but now it’s free. It’s available for nearly all platforms – iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry.