The Canary All-in-One Home Security System has stood out as one of our favorite home security cameras since June 2016. They made it even better in October 2016 when they announced increased archival limits and unlimited downloads. This was a near perfect camera coupled with a near perfect free cloud plan.
That all changed on October 3, 2017. Much of what we loved about the Canary Cloud Plan was reversed. And if you don’t know what options to change, the user experience can degrade quite a bit. That is, unless you’re willing to pay for what was free before.
A late September email from Canary summed up the changes like this:
“Going forward, free users will have an experience that prioritizes video most essential to the security of their homes or businesses.”
What’s that mean? It means that when you’re home, and the Canary app senses that, you can’t watch video recordings from events that occurred while home..
For those that are upstairs watching TV at night, hear a noise downstairs, then turn on Canary to see if there’s any action, you can’t see what happened downstairs unless you pay $99 for the ability to see what was previously free. Canary stated that since the majority of users currently set Canary to private in Home mode, this change will not affect most people’s experience. However, for those don’t keep it in private mode, for reasons outlined in our TV scenario, you’re out of luck.
How do you get around this? Not easily. You could change your home address to fool the home / away feature into thinking you aren’t home. However, that negates some of the features of the security aspect of the camera. Think hard about the ramifications of doing this.
But wait, that’s not all. Here’s another clip from the announcement:
“The timeline will now provide digestible Video Previews that highlight key activity from a motion event, rather than full-length videos.”
Translation: They will shorten the amount of video available with archived video clips. This remains available for 24 hours.
This moves the Canary Cloud Services plan to more closely align with Nest. We love the Nest brand but always have been less than a fan of their cloud services called Nest Aware. Well, now we’re less than a fan of the Canary Cloud Services too. Sometimes changes are good, sometimes not. Clearly, in our opinion, this one is not.
This is the risk of using a cloud only home security camera. Ideally, a micro SD card for locally recording the action would have avoided this. The Canary All-in-One Home Security System does not have any on-board storage so you are hostage to however Canary wishes to structure their cloud services. That’s not a lot different from similarly designed competitor models. What’s available for free today, might not be there tomorrow.
While we still enjoy using the Canary All-in-One Home Security System and think it’s got some great hardware including unique features like air quality alerts, this new development in Canary cloud services definitely dampens our enthusiasm.
All of these articles are written by someone (me) that figured out how to do this stuff the hard way. I have owned and tested dozens of cameras. Manufacturer support varies. There are a few good companies that provide timely answers when you have questions. There are several that sell you the camera and seem to have little interest in post sales support (which leads me to finding out stuff the hard way).