Canary’s Free Tier May Have Changed, But It Still Offers More Than Other Cams

Canary, the makers of the home security Wi-Fi cam that we briefly checked out earlier this year, made some changes to their memberships. Specifically, they cut down on the number of features available to users in the free tier, which has created some warranted backlash.

Granted, most Wi-Fi cams are limited in what they can do without users ponying up for a paid subscription or membership. It’s still a difficult pill to swallow, though, especially when a company cuts back on features that used to be free.

In the past, Canary has provided its users with some generous features in its free tier, most notably the ability to record and save all motion-detected video for up to 24 hours, as well as download any of those videos locally to your device. However, this has changed, along with a few other tweaks. Here’s a breakdown of the new changes:

  • Free users will now only see 10-second “video previews” of any motion that was detected, instead of the whole video.
  • Night Mode is now a paid feature.
  • Free users will no longer be able to record video while in Home Mode.
  • Video downloads are no longer available in the free tier.

Thankfully, the 24 hour limit still stands for free users, but the move from full videos to just 10-second clips is quite the blow, even if those previews consist of the most important parts. However, you’ll still be able to see a live view whenever you want, and you can still receive alerts whenever motion is detected.

As for the change to Night Mode, this lowers the number of modes for free users down to just two: Home Mode and Away Mode. Night Mode is a dedicated mode for when you’re home and sleeping, and you were able to easily switch between them in the app (or automatically schedule the switch). However, Night Mode is now gone for free users.

With the new Home Mode changes, this really only makes Away Mode useful. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see most users from here on out just set their Canary cameras to Away Mode 24/7. This will mean they’ll receive alerts for every single motion event, but you can at least disable notifications for the app entirely if need be. The good news with Home Mode, however, is the addition of seeing the live view while in Home Mode, which you couldn’t do before.

Most importantly: while I can understand Canary users being upset by these changes, the free tier still offers more features than the Nest Cam does with its own free tier. Without a Nest Aware subscription, the Nest Cam is really nothing more than a glorified live streaming camera—it only snaps screenshots of motion and are stored for only three hours. However, it does notify you of motion, so there’s that.

Still, though, this places the Canary lower on the list of Wi-Fi cams and the amount of free features available on them. There are plenty of other options to consider if you’re not willing to spend the extra cash on a paid subscription, including the Arlo Pro, which records and saves videos for up to seven days without paying a single cent more.

Craig Lloyd writes about smarthome for How-To Geek, and is an aspiring handyman who loves tinkering with anything and everything around the house. He's also a mediocre gamer, aviation geek, baseball fan, motorcyclist, and proud introvert.