About presence sensing and how to manage your data

Your phone location and sensors in supported home devices can help determine whether or not you're at home, which means that these signals, working together, can help determine presence inside the home. We refer to this as presence sensing. Presence sensing can help your home devices adjust to your needs when you are home or away.

Note: This article explains what presence sensing means, how it happens, how phone location data is used by the Home app to enable presence sensing, and the controls and choices that you have. If you’re using the Nest app, learn about Home/Away Assist instead.

Presence sensing and how it’s used for your Home and Away routines 

Your devices use presence sensing to start either your Home routine or Away routine. You can view and manage your presence data in the Home app. 

If you turn off presence sensing for your home and your phone, your routines and other features that use presence sensing won’t know when you leave or come back home, so they won’t know when to start. You can still start your routines manually with the Home app.

If you turn off 'Allow this home to use phone locations', but leave your individual phone location on, Home and Away routines will stop working, but features that use only your phone location, such as Only Ring When Home, will continue to work.

Presence sensing and how it’s used with Only Ring When Home

Your devices use presence sensing to determine whether you’re home. When Only Ring When Home is enabled, incoming calls to your Google Nest speakers or displays will occur when you are home, but not when you are away. You can view and manage your presence data in the Home app. 

If you’re a member of a home that has Home and Away routines enabled, turning off presence sensing for your phone in the Google Home app’s settings can also disable other features that use your phone’s location with presence sensing, like Only Ring When Home.

How your phone’s location works with your presence sensing 

If you opt in, the Home app uses your phone’s location (determined by mobile and Wi-Fi data) to determine when you’ve crossed your geo-fence, a virtual perimeter around your home that you designate when setting up the feature. 

Your geofence crossings, combined with sensors on devices in your home, can determine when to start your Home and Away routines.  This data also helps improve and personalise your Nest connected home experience. Learn more in the Nest privacy FAQ.

For the geofence to enable presence sensing to work properly, you’ll need to make sure that:

  • You’ve enabled your phone in presence sensing settings in the Home app
  • You’ve set location permissions for the Home app on your phone to Always on 
  • Everyone in your household has enabled their phones in presence sensing settings in the Home app on their own phones

In your Home app’s history, you’ll see an indication for every time that you entered or left the geofence area. Remember that presence sensing is distinct from the Location History feature of your Google Account, and neither feature impacts the other one. In addition, we built this with your privacy in mind.

The Home app doesn’t track where you are or where you’ve been beyond tracking whether or not you are inside your home’s geofence. Data used for presence sensing and geofence is only used to determine when you come home or when you leave. This data is used for the purposes for which you give permission, and is explained in more detail in the Nest privacy FAQ

Presence sensing works best if every member of your household enables their individual phones in presence sensing settings in the Home app. If some members of your household don’t use these settings, your devices may not sense that person as being at home, even when they are, and your routines may not work as you expect them to. 

For example, if you’re the only person in your household whose phone is enabled in presence sensing and you don’t use any of your devices for presence sensing, when you leave, the Away routine will start and turn off the lights in your home. The other members of your household still at home would need to turn the lights back on or manually start your Home routine. 

Turn on or off presence sensing

  1. Open the Google Home app Google Home app.
  2. Tap Settings Presence sensing.
  3. Turn on or off Allow this home to use phone locations.

You can also turn off just an individual phone from being used for presence sensing.

If you turn off sharing phone locations for a home or just your phone in the presence sensing settings, features that use presence sensing, such as Only Ring When Home or Home and Away routines may no longer work.

Manage your data

The Home app history will show you and other home members when and why your Home and Away routines started automatically. 

  • You can see your own entrances to and exits from the home. You can manage this data in the Home app settings. 
  • Other members of your home can see when you manually change the mode to Home or Away using the app, your voice, Nest Secure or Nest × Yale lock.

Note: All data collected by the Home app is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and is handled as explained in more detail in the Nest privacy FAQ. Please also read Google’s commitment to privacy in the home.

Delete your presence history

Your home’s presence history includes data for all members of your home and all your devices, even the data that you can't see in your home's history in the Home app.. It’s stored for 60 days and then it’s deleted automatically. You and all other members of the home can also delete it manually at any time from the Home app.

 Note: You can only see your own history for when you leave or come home.

  1. Open the Home app Google Home app.
  2. Open Settings Settings gear and then Presence sensing.
  3. Tap Delete all presence history.
  4. Choose Delete.

After you've deleted your home’s presence history, you and all members of your home can see it as an event in the Home app’s history.

Download your data

You can see a history of data collected by your devices in the Home app. You can also download your data at any time.

Learn more about how to download your Google data here.

Was this helpful?
How can we improve it?