Google reduces Nest camera quality by default amid coronavirus lockdown

The change is an attempt to conserve internet bandwidth.

Richard Nieva
Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.

Google said it's changing the default settings on Nest cameras.

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Google on Tuesday told Nest customers it's temporarily adjusting the camera quality settings on its devices, in an attempt to reduce the strain on wireless networks as people stay home to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"In response to community issues caused by COVID-19, we're temporarily adjusting your camera quality and bandwidth in an effort to conserve internet resources," the note said. "With so many people working and attending school from home, we're stretching our resources in ways we haven't before—including the internet."

A Google spokeswoman confirmed the update and said the company will be making the changes "in the next few days." The camera settings on the devices will be automatically set to the default, or out-of-the-box, settings. Google also said the resolution will also be reduced for photo slideshows on its Nest smart displays and Chromecast streaming devices. 

The company said the changes are meant to reduce the number of dropped calls and frozen screens customers have been experiencing. Users can reverse the settings manually if they want the higher-quality images.

The change comes as people hunker down in their homes due to stay-at-home orders in almost every state in the US. Schools, libraries, bars and other businesses deemed nonessential during the coronavirus pandemic have closed their doors. 

Google has already made bandwidth changes for other products. Last month it said it's reducing the default quality of YouTube videos globally to standard definition, as people spend more time on the massive video site while staying at home.

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