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New Nest Aware service launches, but it isn't better for everyone

The change is good news for customers with multiple Nest cameras -- but possibly bad news for everyone else.

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The updated Nest Aware service starts at $6 per month and works with all of your Nest cameras.
Chris Monroe/CNET

Nest teased updates to its Nest Aware cloud subscription plan back in October. Now the Google smart home company is making it official -- starting Tuesday, it's rolling out the new $6 Nest Aware service to users.

Nest Aware is a cloud service that gives Nest Hello, Nest IQ Cam and other Nest security camera customers access to advanced features, like facial recognition, as well as some more basic ones, like saved video history. Although Nest Aware is optional and contract-free, Nest Aware is necessary if you ever want to view saved video footage from past events. 

The old plan started at $5 per month and you got 5 days of 24/7 rolling saved cloud video footage, as well as facial recognition, activity zones and other extra options. The other two pricing tiers gave you the same features, but more cloud storage -- $10 per month for 10 days of saved cloud footage; $30 per month for 30 days of saved cloud footage. 

But that pricing model only applied to a single Nest camera. Each additional Nest camera required an additional Nest Aware subscription, sometimes discounted, sometimes not, depending on whether the new subscription was for the same 5-, 10- or 30-day period and if it was assigned to the same home. 

The new Nest Aware mitigates that confusion with a new plan that covers all of your Nest cameras, whether you have two or 12, saving owners of multiple cameras major money. That's the good news.

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Here are the old Nest Aware pricing levels.

Screenshot by CNET from Google.com

The not-so-good news is that the new plan, starting at $6 per month, replaces Nest's traditional 24/7 saved footage with 30 days of saved clips. That means you can only review footage when the camera specifically detects something, rather than recording and saving everything. 

That's a pretty major change over Nest's past Nest Aware offerings. Is 30 days of event-based clips really better than 5 days of 24/7 saved footage? I'm not convinced. 

The second pricing tier, dubbed Nest Aware Plus, costs $12 per month and includes 60 days of event-based clips and 10 days of 24/7 saved footage. That means you have to pay $12 per month to get 24/7 footage, whether you have one or multiple cameras, so the folks with one camera, who were happy with that original 5 days of 24/7 footage option for $5 probably won't be too pleased. 

Fortunately, existing Nest Aware customers have the option to stick with their current plan. If you do want to switch to the new plan, you need to migrate your Nest account over to Google (if you haven't already). Some Nest customers have expressed frustration while migrating over to a Google account from the Nest app, sharing details of glitches and device integrations that stopped working in the Google Home app. 

The new Nest Aware plan is adding in some new features, though, including audio detection that uses your Nest cameras, smart speakers and displays to listen for a smoke detector alarm and send you an alert if the alarm sounds. That isn't a new feature for security cameras in general -- models like the $20 Wyze Cam have that capability -- but it is new for Nest, and it's also a newer concept for smart speakers and displays

Amazon's Alexa Guard, which works with Alexa speakers, listens for the sound of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, as well as for the sound of glass breaking. 

Similar to Arlo's e911 service, subscribers of Nest Aware 2.0 will be able to contact local emergency services straight from the Google Home app. This time-saving feature is especially useful if you're too far from home for 911 to contact your local law enforcement -- and you don't immediately know the number for your local police department. 

Legacy Nest Aware customers will not have access to the audio detection or 911 calling service from the Google Home app. 

The updated Nest Aware service is available now. Learn more here.

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