February 15, 2017, 3:00pm EDT
Depending on where you have your Nest Cam set up, you might receive more notifications than you really need. However, you can customize your Nest Cam notifications so that you only the receive the ones that you truly care about at times when you need them.
You can choose what kind of alerts you want, when you want to receive them, and how you want to receive them. Here’s how to customize it all.
First, open up the Nest app on your phone and tap on your Nest Cam’s live view.
Tap on the settings gear icon in the top-right corner of the screen.
Scroll down to the bottom and tap on “Notifications”.
On the next screen, there are three different sections: When, How, and About. Start by tapping on “Only when no one’s home”.
If you only want to receive notifications when you’re not home, tap on the toggle switch to turn it on. Otherwise, leave it off if you want to receive notifications 24/7, whether you’re home or not.
Under the “How” section, you can choose where your notifications will be sent, either as a push notification on your phone or tablet, or through email. By default, notifications are sent as push alerts to your mobile device, but you can have both enabled if you want.
Below that, in the “About” section, you can choose to receive notifications whenever your Nest Cam detects motion by selecting “Activity”. You can also select “Sound” and receive a notification whenever any kind of sound is detected by the Nest Cam, whether or not motion is detected. For sound alerts, though, you’ll want to make sure that your Nest Cam has audio capture enabled. Otherwise, sound alerts won’t work.
Changes will automatically save whenever you select new options, so once you’ve customized your notifications, you can exit out of the Nest app and be on your way. The next time your Nest Cam detects motion or sound, you’ll receive an alert based on the notification settings you have enabled.
It’s likely that you receive a ton of irrelevant false positive motion alerts from your Nest Cam—a car driving by, a bug flying through the frame, or a bush off to the right waving around in the wind. Here’s how you can limit those kinds of notifications using Activity Zones.
Keep in mind that you’re not going to be able to get rid of every false positive motion alert, but by creating Activity Zones and customizing your notifications, you can at least keep them to a minimum.
Creating Activity Zones
Creating an Activity Zone for your Nest Cam or Nest Hello video doorbell allows you to receive motion alerts from only a certain part of the camera’s field of view.
So for example, if you live on a busy street and your Nest Hello is pointed right at that street, you’ll probably get a ton of useless motion alerts. Instead, you can create an Activity Zone where you select everything in the frame except for the busy street. That way, you’ll only get relevant motion alerts.
We have a guide on creating Activity Zones (you’ll need a Nest Aware subscription), and it’ll take you through the process of creating an Activity Zone using the web interface, which is the easiest way to do it.
You can do it from the Nest app on your phone or tablet by going into the settings for your camera and selecting the “Activity Zones” option. However, it’s a bit cumbersome to do this on a small touch screen. So if you’re able to do it from the web interface, then that’s the best option.
The next step is to customize the notifications for your Nest Cam or Nest Hello. You can do this step by itself without creating an Activity Zone (especially if you don’t want to pony up for a Nest Aware subscription), but ultimately, combining Activity Zones with customized notifications is the best thing to do.
We also have a basic guide on customizing notifications, but the real magic is adjusting the alerts for the Activity Zone that you created earlier.
To do this, open up the settings for your Nest Cam or Nest Hello, and then tap the “Notifications” setting.
From there, tap the Activity Zone you want to configure.
On this screen, you can simply select which types of alerts you want to receive: People, all other motion, or both.
Now, go back to the previous screen and tap the “Motion outside of a zone” setting.
This page gives you the same options, but it only applies to the area outside of your Activity Zone.
Again, this won’t 100% get rid of false positives—like a bug flying into the frame or something blowing in the wind—but it should cut down on most of the needless motion alerts, especially random cars driving by or anything else that isn’t happening directly on your property.
Out of the box, the Nest Hello works really well, and there’s not really a whole lot you need to change for regular use. However, there are a few setting changes you should at least consider making.
Turn the Camera On and Off Automatically
Most people likely want the Nest Hello camera turned on and available 24/7, but there are some circumstances were that might not be necessary. Thus, you can have the camera turn on and off automatically based on a couple of things.
One way is to have the camera turn on and off based on whether you’re home or not, which it does by using your phone’s geolocation feature. In the settings for your Nest Hello, you can enable “Home/Away Assist” to turn the camera on when you leave your house and off when you get home.
You can also just set a time-based schedule to turn your camera off at a certain time, and then back on at another time. You can customize this under “Schedule” in the settings for your Nest Hello.
Adjust the Video Quality
The Nest Hello can potentially use up a lot of bandwidth and data. If your internet provider has you on a data cap, you may want to tone down the video quality of your Hello so that it doesn’t use up a good chunk of your monthly data.
You can do this by tapping the “Quality and Bandwidth” option on the Settings menu, and then moving the slider to the “Low” setting. By default, it’s set to medium, which Nest says will only use around 120 GB per month. However, the Low setting only uses around 30 GB.
Also, having the camera turn off at certain times (as discussed in the previous section) can save you additional data.
You’ll definitely want to adjust the type of notifications you receive from your Nest Hello, especially if you don’t want to be constantly annoyed by them.
Under “Notifications” in the Settings menu, there are a few things you can adjust. First off, you can select what type of notifications you want to receive—either push notifications directly on your phone, or email notifications.
And you can choose to be alerted only when you’re not home, instead of always being alerted no matter what.
You also can customize what kind of alerts you want to receive in the first place. Since the Nest Hello can differentiate between a person and general motion being detected, you can choose whether or not to receive both kinds of alerts, or just one or the other. Personally, since I live on a busy street, I get a lot of false positives with general motion alerts, so I have those notifications disabled.
Finally, you can choose whether or not to receive notifications when a loud sound is detected. Again, living on a busy street, you’ll receive these types of alerts constantly, so they’re really only great if you live in a somewhat quiet area. You’ll need to turn on “Audio Recording” first before you can receive these types of alerts (more on that down below).
Turn Off the Status Light
On the Nest Hello unit, there’s a small green LED status light above the camera. By default, it turns on whenever it’s capturing video.
It’s really not a huge deal or anything, but it’s mostly useless, and it distracts from the subtlety of the Nest Hello’s design. The good news is that you can turn it off by tapping the “Status Light” option in the Settings menu, and ticking the toggle switch off.
Enable Audio Recording
The microphone on the Nest Hello is enabled by default, but audio recording is not. This is a feature you may find useful.
Having the microphone enabled lets you listen to audio while viewing the live feed, but having audio recordings enabled allows the Nest Hello to record audio along with video whenever it’s capturing something. With it disabled, the Hello only records video.
This is also a setting you’ll need enabled if you want to receive notifications when a loud sound is detected.
November 1, 2018, 3:00pm EDT
You can easily get Nest Hello video doorbell notifications right on your phone, but if you’re at home lounging on the couch, you can also receive alerts right on your Google Home Hub.
This is a feature that Google Home users have been able to take advantage of for a while now, but with the Google Home Hub and its built-in screen, you can now have the Nest Hello video feed automatically pop up whenever the doorbell rings, which is way better anyway.
How to Set It Up
The process for setting up Nest Hello notifications on the Google Home Hub are the same for setting it up on all other Google Home devices, and we have a guide that takes you through the process.
The gist is that you’ll need to download the Google Assistant app if you’re on iPhone (Android users are already good to go there). Next, you’ll enable “Visitor Announcements” in your Nest Hello’s settings within the Nest app.
At that point, you’ll connect your Nest app with the Google Assistant app, and you’re off to the races!
How to Show the Video Feed Manually at Anytime
Aside from the video feed automatically popping up when the doorbell rings, you can also bring up the Nest Hello’s video feed manually at any time by saying something like, “Hey Google, show me the Front Door” (or whatever you named your Nest Hello).
The video feed will begin streaming on the display. To exit out of it at any time, just say “Hey Google, stop” or you can swipe from the left side of the screen to go back to the main screen on the Home Hub.
If you have other Google Home devices around your house, they can also notify you when someone comes to the door. And with the Nest Hello’s Familiar Faces feature enabled, your Google Home can even announce exactly who is at the door if it recognizes that person.
Of course, if you don’t have Familiar Faces enabled, a regular Google Home is nothing more than just a glorified doorbell chime at that point. But on the plus side, if you usually hang out in an area of your house where you normally can’t hear the regular chime, something like this can be pretty useful.
February 16, 2017, 3:00pm EDT
If you only want a small section of your Nest Cam’s field of view to be subject to motion alerts, you create “activity zones.” That way, you’ll only receive notifications when motion has been detected only in a certain area—like your driveway, for instance.
Most of the Nest Cam’s features can be set up from within the Nest app on your smartphone or tablet. However, activity zones can only be set up and adjusted through the Nest web interface. The only prerequisite is that you must have a Nest Aware subscription in order to have activity zones.
Start by heading to Nest’s website. Click on “Sign In” at the top-right corner of the screen.
Next, click on the live view of your Nest Cam. The interface will look nearly identical to the mobile app.
When the live view loads, click on “Zones” down in the bottom-right corner of the screen.
A pop-up will appear where you’ll click on “Create”.
Next, a transparent purple box will appear on the screen. The area within this box is your activity zone.
Click and drag on the small circles to adjust the shape of the box, and click and hold on the box to drag it around the screen until you’re happy with its placement.
Once that’s done, you can give that activity zone a name down in the bottom-left corner of the screen, as well as change the color of the highlight.
After that, click on “Done” in the bottom-right corner to save your new activity zone.
Your activity zone will appear in the pop-up list, where you can edit it at any time. You can also create more activity zones if you’d like. However, be sure to uncheck “Motion” so that you only receive motion alerts within your activity zone, rather than just all motion alerts in general.
This is a great feature to have, especially if you have your Nest Cam pointed outside where passing cars can constantly trigger motion notifications. Instead, you can pinpoint where exactly you want motion alerts to be activated and only receive alerts that you actually care about.
On this week’s IoT Podcast, we got a great voicemail question from Keith. He wants to know if an Amazon Echo can notify him of external events based on other smart devices in his home. For example, if a webcam sees movement, can Alexa tell him?
There’s no native functionality to make this happen, but the Notify Me Alexa skill works for this. Just keep in mind that the setup isn’t quite a simple process and it does require an external service, such as IFTTT.
Using the webcam motion detection example, here are the steps to make this work. You can adjust them accordingly for whatever smart device you want to use as a trigger event, of course.
First, enable the Notify Me skill found on the Amazon Alexa Skills site, or in your Alexa app.
Note that you’ll have to approve the Alexa Notifications permission for this. Once enabled with the proper permissions, you should receive an email that includes a unique Notify Me access code. This is tied to your Amazon account and is required for the service to work.
If you want to test the skill at this point, there’s also a link in the email to generate a notification to your Echo devices; click it and Alexa should make a sound or light up to inform you of a new notification. Say “Alexa, play notifications” and she should say “Hello world,” which is the test message.
Now it’s time to set up the skill with IFTTT, using the lengthy access code. I chose to create an IFTTT recipe using a Nest Cam in this example.
Step 2 is to choose the appropriate Nest Cam; I have two and for this example, I’ll use the camera that faces our driveway and select the “New Motion Event” option as the trigger. Once you’ve selected the appropriate device, click the “Create Trigger” button.
With the trigger event configured, it’s time to tell IFTTT what to do when that event occurs by clicking the “+that” selection and searching for Webhooks. The reason? We want IFTTT to send a web command to the Notify Me skill.
Here’s where the process gets marginally tricky, but trust me, you can do it! Choose the only option you’ll see for Webhooks, which is the “Make a web request” selection. Then you’ll see four fields to configure the webhook. Use the following information to fill in the first three:
- URL: https://api.notifymyecho.com/v1/NotifyMe
- Method: POST
- Content Type: application/json
This is what the first three fields should look like once you’ve completed this input:
The fourth and final field, Body, is where you’ll create a custom notification based on this format: <“notification”: “Hello World!”, “accessCode”:“ACCESS_CODE”>.
You may want to paste the above line (including the curly braces) right into the body because you’re only going to modify what I’ve put in italics. You can replace “Hello World!” with your custom notification; this is what Alexa will say when she sees motion from my Nest Cam. I’ll use, “I see movement in the driveway” for this implementation.
Finally, replace the italicized “ACCESS_CODE” part with your unique access code, making sure that you put quotes around it. Here’s what it should look like in my example, although I didn’t paste a real access code and my fake code is shorter than the real one.
Once all of the fields are properly filled in, just tap “Create action” to enable your new Alexa notification. That’s it!
In this particular case, Alexa receives a notification whenever my driveway Nest Cam senses movement. Just to reiterate, Alexa won’t simply speak the notification when she receives it: You’ll have to ask her to read the notification aloud, which is how Amazon has implemented notifications.
And there’s one more thing you should know. Regardless of what smart home device you use as a trigger event, Amazon limits the Notification API: Trigger events can only create notifications up to five times in a five minute period. After that, Amazon puts you in a bit of a time-out. I wouldn’t think you’d want notifications every minute but it’s worth a mention if you use the skill several times over a few minutes during the setup or test process.
Thanks to the Notify Me skill, you can have Alexa notify you of any external events triggered by a sensor, camera or any other smart device supported by IFTTT. Notify Me isn’t limited to IFTTT as it also works with ISY, Indigo, HomeSeer and Tasker, but I chose IFTTT for this example since it’s relatively simple and many people are familiar with it.
If you’d rather hear our response to this question, you can hit the play button below to start the podcast right at our IoT Podcast Hotline section:
And remember, you can always leave us your question by calling the IoT Podcast Hotline at 512-623-7424!
Thanks to Google’s new Nest Aware plans, Google Home and Nest devices can now keep an ear out for the sounds of smoke alarms and breaking glass.
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Google just relaunched its Nest Aware home security plans, complete with a simplified pricing structure and a host of new features. Chief among them: the ability for Google smart displays and speakers to alert you if they hear something suspicious.
Users who pony up $6 a month ($60 if paid annually) for the standard Nest Aware plan will be able to set their Google Home and Nest devices to detect the sound of breaking glass and smoke alarms. The subscription covers all the Nest devices in your home and includes 30 days of cloud storage for event recordings made by Nest security cameras (“events” are recordings triggered by motion or sound). A $12-per-month/$120-per-year plan gives you 60 days of event storage in the cloud, plus 10 days of 24/7 video recording.
Mentioned in this article
It’s a nifty feature that essentially turns a dumb smoke detector into a smart one, and it matches the similar (but free) Guard feature for Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo speakers and displays.
Turning on Nest Aware’s sound detection feature is easy, and there’s even a 30-day Nest Aware trial for new users and those moving over from the first-generation Nest Aware service.
Using the Google Home app, you can pick which of your Google Home and Nest devices will listen for smoke alarms and breaking glass.
How to turn on sound detection for your Google Home or Nest smart device
- First, fire up the Google Home app for iOS or Android, tap Settings, then scroll down and tap Nest Aware.
- If you haven’t signed up for a Nest Aware plan, now’s your chance to get a 30-day free trial. Just tap the Start Trial button and follow the prompts, which will guide you through a series of key Nest Aware features including sound detection. Meanwhile, existing users can tap Sound detection from the main Nest Aware screen to customize their settings, while new users should dip back into the Sound detection options to customize their preferences.
- On the Sound detection screen, check the boxes next to the sounds that you want your Google devices to listen for. Smoke alarms and breaking glass are currently the only options.
- Next, pick which of your Google Home and Nest devices will—or won’t—be listening for suspicious sounds. For example, you’d probably want to turn on sound detection for a Google display that’s near the smoke alarm in your kitchen, but you might turn off sound detection for a Google Nest Mini that’s in a room without an alarm or a window. All of your Google devices that are capable of sound detection will appear in a list; just toggle each device on or off.
- If you like (and as you probably should), you can set the Google Home app to send you notifications if one of your Google devices hears something suspicious. Tap Sound detection notifications, then toggle the Smoke alarms and Glass breaking options.
What will happen when a Google/Nest device hears a suspicious sound
- If one of your Google Nest or Home devices hears a smoke alarm or glass breaking, you’ll see an alert under the Priority events heading in your Google Home feed and (optionally) get a notification. For an “in progress” sound event, the alert will appear at the top of the feed.
- You’ll be able to play back the detected sound or listen in live on the device that heard the sound. If you tap the Listen live button, the device in question will announce that someone is listening. You can listen in for up to three minutes, and you can also tap the Microphone button to speak.
- Last but not least, you can dismiss a sound clip or delete it.
Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart home and home entertainment products.
Getting Started With Ring Notifications
Depending on your Ring device, there are two different types of notifications you’ll receive.
While cameras such as Spotlight Cam, Indoor Cam, Floodlight Cam, and Stick Up Cam only send out Motion Alerts, Doorbell products such as Ring Video Doorbell, Ring Video Doorbell 2, Ring Video Doorbell 3, Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus, Ring Video Doorbell Pro, and Ring Video Doorbell Elite feature both Motion Alerts and Ring Alerts.
Ring Alerts are notifications sent to your smartphone, tablet or PC whenever someone presses the front button on your Ring Doorbell.
Motion Alerts are notifications you receive when one of your Ring devices senses motion.
Follow the steps below to activate your notifications.
First, make sure that both Ring Alerts and Motion Alerts are activated by setting each to the blue “On” position in the Device Settings of your Ring app.
Note: If you have a Ring Protect Plan subscription, turning off alerts does not turn off recording.
Then, test your device by pressing the button on the front of your Doorbell and/or walking in front of it to trigger a motion event. If everything’s working correctly, you should start receiving notifications.
If you still don’t receive Motion Alerts, you may need to customize your motion settings.
Note: Notification settings are specific to the device connected to Ring, not your actual Ring Doorbell or camera. For example, if you activate notifications on your phone, they will not be automatically activated on your tablet. Instead, you have to manually designate your notification settings for each device connected to Ring.
Make Sure You’re Connected
If your alerts are activated, but you’re still not receiving notifications, you’ll need to make sure your device is online and capturing events. Check this by pressing the doorbell button or triggering a motion alert; if your device is functioning properly, a new event will appear in your activity log.
If an event doesn’t appear, your Ring device has most likely been disconnected from your wifi network.
Go through the setup process again to resolve these issues. Click here for a guide to setting up your Ring device.
Reset the App
If you’re still having issues, you may need to reset the Ring app.
Do this by logging out of the app, powering off your phone, then powering it back on and logging back into the app.
Have you tried all of these steps, but are still not receiving notifications?
Then see our advanced troubleshooting guides for more tips:
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Google Home app gets Nest Cam events and improved smart outlet icons (Update: New lighting controls)
This story was originally published 2020/03/16
7:40am PDT on Mar 16, 2020 and last updated 2020/04/23
3:43am PDT on Apr 23, 2020 .
Google Home received an overhaul last year that reduced its number of bottom tabs from four to two — only home control and a feed remain. The latter hasn’t been populated by too much content, but a recent update to version 2.19 changes that, at least if you own Nest security devices. The feed now shows you Nest Cam events in the form of highlights and makes the whole history available for viewing. The update also gives smart outlets icons that better depict which devices they’re controlling.
The enhanced feed will let you see priority events that have happened within the last 30 days as well as device activity overviews of the past two days. It also displays notifications you’ve received from your Nest security devices right inside the feed. To take advantage of this, you need to migrate your Nest credentials to your Google account, though keep in mind that once you do that, there’s no way back.
You can also look through your full Nest security cam history in the latest update under Settings -> Home history. The content can be filtered by cameras and what’s seen and heard — you can have the app look for motion, left or retrieved packages, persons, and familiar or unfamiliar faces. On the audio side, there are filters for smoke alarms, glass breaking, dog barking, and persons talking.
Version 2.19 also improves the visual representation of smart outlets. In the past, you’d only see a generic outlet icon, regardless of what device you control with it, but now, Google seems to respect what you call the outlet and changes the symbol to match it. For example, if you control a lamp with a smart plug and call it “Couch Light” or “Night Light,” the device will be accompanied by a bulb icon.
Additionally, there have been some changes to the lighting shortcuts on the home screen. Instead of the on and off buttons of old, there’s now only one that opens a new slide-up with options to switch on and off all lights in your home or only those in specific rooms.
Left: Previous releases. Middle & Right: Version 2.19 and higher.
The changes are live in version 2.19 of Google Home, which is currently rolling out. Check the Play Store to see if the update is already available to you. You can also get it over at APK Mirror.
New lighting controls rolling out more widely
The lighting controls seen in the screenshots above have started to roll out more widely. Check your Home app to see if you’ve received them, too. It’s more straightforward to use than the previous version as you can simultaneously turn some lights on and others off from the same menu. Thanks: Ramit Suri!
After months of testing, I determined Arlo Pro 2 is the best outdoor security camera overall because of its rechargeable batteries and subscription-free motion recording service. However, Nest Cam is better for people who need 24/7 recording that’s guaranteed not to miss a beat.
I’ll explain how I reached my conclusion by comparing two outdoor security cameras (Nest Cam vs. Arlo Pro 2) while evaluating five categories: free service, subscription service, software, hardware, and video/audio quality.
Best For You
Arlo Pro 2
Get Arlo Pro 2 if you want battery-powered security without a monthly subscription. It’s reliable, wireless, shoots sharp video, and has great range.
Nest Cam Outdoor
Get Nest Cam if you’re willing to pay $5/month for Nest Aware (the free plan is useless) and have access to a power outlet. Nest’s free plan is useless.
Arlo Pro 2
Nest Cam Outdoor
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