∞ 'Learning thermostat' works with iOS, Web apps

The Nest Learning Thermostat is making the round of tech blogs today. This pricey $249 thermostat – currently available for pre-order – replaces the ones in your house and helps you conserve energy by learning your schedule. What’s more, it’s remotely programmable using mobile and Web apps.

The Nest employs a simple, rotary dial design, just like the old-fashioned mercury switch-activated thermostats in some older houses. But that’s where the similarity ends – the device sports a built-in illuminated color display and sensors that can distinguish movement and ambient temperature. After it knows you’ve been out of the house for a couple of hours, the Nest will automatically adjust the temperature until you get home, to help conserve.

But that’s just the start. The Nest features Wi-Fi support, so it’ll connect to your home network. Using secure Web based software or an iOS or Android app, you can also remote-control the settings on your Nest thermostats from anywhere. The Nest also downloads weather data so it knows what the outside world is like.

The Nest is user-installable and comes with everything you need to put it in; Nest Labs also has a dealer network for users uncomfortable with working with the low-voltage wiring needed to hook up the device.

There’s an Apple connection beside the iOS software, by the way: Nest Labs is headed up by Tony Fadell, former senior vice president of Apple’s iPod division. Fadell left Apple in 2008, serving as an adviser to Steve Jobs for a time. He founded Nest Labs in 2010. Fadell’s co-founder, Matt Rogers, headed up an iPod engineering group within Apple.