Google Nest Aware Adds Suspicious Sound Alerts, Drops Subscription and Device Prices
Google will alert you about suspicious sounds noted by your Google Nest devices as part of its revamped Nest Aware subscription service. The alerts are one of several new features for Nest Aware, which has been redesigned with a new price scheme as part of its rollout to 19 markets.
Aware and Alert
Nest Aware connects Google’s smart home devices to the cloud, specifically Nest cameras and similar security devices. Google announced at the Made by Google event last fall that a major update for the service would arrive early in 2020, but the rollout only began this week. On the feature side, Nest Aware analyzes the noise picked up by devices for suspicious sounds like shattering glass or a smoke detector, immediately sending an alert to the subscriber’s phone with an audio clip. If they choose, U.S. subscribers can then call 911 directly from the Google Home app. That way, if the user is away from home, they will be connected to a 911 center near their house instead of wherever they are at the moment. Nest Aware will also send alerts for more mundane events, such as when a package is dropped off, but presumably will not count that as suspicious.
The other notable update offers the option for family members to get Nest Aware updates. Nest Hub Max owners can add others to their alert list, sending the same updates to whoever they wish. Google pitches this feature as useful for families with older people who want to know about any potential problems as they arise. While limited to Nest Hub Max owners with Nest Aware at the moment, it’s easy to imagine Google expanding the feature to more devices or spinning it off into its own sub-service. There’s already evidence of a market for that kind of service. Usually, it’s combined with more senior-focused voice AI such as voice-activated robotic companion and pill dispenser Pria and the proactive voice assistant in LifePod, which is able to begin conversations with its owner about health routines and keep caregivers updated in real-time to help aging or socially isolated people. According to Google, the current COVID-19 health crisis makes all of these new features more important than they might otherwise seem.
“We’re all spending more time at home these days, and for many of us, that means investing time in our personal spaces and trying to check in on loved ones as much as possible,” Google wrote in a blog announcing the update. “The subscription service is a helpful, affordable companion to all of your Google Nest devices whether you’re home or away.”
Google Nest Aware is also undergoing a major shift in its pricing. Now, $6 a month gets subscribers 30 days worth of recorded events where the camera detected motion. For $12 per month, subscribers double that to 60 days of events and can add 10 days of non-stop recording to their archive as well. Before, the price depended on the model and number of Nest devices, at $5 to $30 per month per camera, albeit all with non-stop recording. The change in the model also requires a Google account, pushing anyone using a pre-existing Nest account into Google’s world. In comparison, an Amazon Ring subscription costs $3 a month per device or $10 a month for every device in a home. Ring can also send alerts via Alexa if it detects sounds that may indicate danger and can connect with ADT if the user has an account there.
On top of the subscription price change, Google also lowered some of the Nest device prices. A Nest Hub costs $90 now, a $50 price decrease, while the Nest Cam is $70 cheaper at $130. The pricing changes suggest Google is particularly eager to get people to sign up for Nest Aware. The push is a natural extension of how Google wants people to design their smart homes around its tech ecosystem, both with Nest devices and Google Assistant-powered smart speakers.