TechHive has criticized smart home products that require paid subscriptions to unlock all their features, so we consider it very good news that Google is changing its Nest Aware subscription plans from a per-device fee to a whole-home structure. Google made the announcement at its Made by Google event in New York on Tuesday; unfortunately, the change won’t come until sometime in early 2020.
Nest home security cameras, such as the Nest Home IQ or Nestcam IQ Outdoor, record video continuously 24/7, but you need a Nest Aware plan to access a history of those recordings. A subscription also unlocks camera features—such as Familiar Face Alerts that can distinguish between people you know and strangers—that aren’t otherwise available.
Today, each camera needs its own subscription, although Google offers discounts for each camera beyond the first. The current Nest Aware subscription plan is available in three tiers: Five days of video history for $5 per month or $50 per year, 10 days of history for $10 per month or $100 per year, or 30 days of history for $30 per month or $300 if paid annually. If you have a lot of Nest cameras, those plans can get very expensive.
Under the new two-tiered plan, one fee covers every Nest product in your home. Starting in early 2020, a Nest Aware plan will cost $6 per month and include 30 days of event-based video history (recordings are made only when Nest products detect activity—for example, when Nest Cams detect motion or when Nest speakers or Nest Hubs detect sound). A Nest Aware Plus plan extends event-based recording history to 60 days and adds 10 days of 24/7 continuous video history.
Nest Aware also enables an “intelligent alerts” feature on Nest cameras and the Nest Hello video doorbell. Cloud-based algorithms analyze the sound and motion that these devices detect, such as a person walking up to your doorstep or your dog barking, and will send an alert to your mobile device. But the algorithms will generally ignore background noise and unimportant motion—such as a tree branch swaying in the breeze—so you’re not bombarded with notifications.
Michael is TechHive's lead editor, with 30+ years of experience covering the tech industry, focusing on the smart home, home audio, and home theater. He built his own smart home in 2007 and used it as a real-world test lab for product reviews. Following a relocation to the Pacific Northwest, he is now converting his new home, an 1890 Victorian bungalow, into a modern smart home.