Nest Cam

The main purpose of Wi-Fi cameras is to record video, but that’s not the only thing they can do. Modern Wi-Fi cams are sophisticated pieces of hardware and they can do a lot more than simply record video.

RELATED: What You Should Know Before Buying Wi-Fi Cameras

This also means that if you’re in the market for a Wi-Fi cam, there are a lot more features that you’ll want to know about a specific model other than its video quality. Here are features that some Wi-Fi cameras have other than just video recording.

Two-Way Talk

Two-way talk capabilities on the Nest Cam

Pretty much every Wi-Fi camera these days comes with a built-in microphone and speaker so you can use your smartphone and your Wi-Fi cam as walkie talkies of sorts.

The accompanying app on your phone lets you hit a button and start talking through the camera, and the person on the other end can talk back using the microphone on the camera itself. This is especially useful on video doorbells where you can talk to the person who came to your door (rather than actually opening and answering the door), especially if it’s someone who you’re not quite sure about.

Of course, if this intercom isn’t a feature that you’ll use, there’s usually a setting that lets you turn off the microphone and speaker on the camera, but this usually will also prevent video recordings from capturing audio.

Facial Recognition

Nest Hello video doorbell

Most—if not all—Wi-Fi cameras can detect motion, and some take it a bit further to differentiate between people, pets, and other objects. But a handful of Wi-Fi cams can perform facial recognition.

That is, these cameras can not only detect that a certain object is a person, but it can actually tell you who that person is, whether it’s your neighbor or the mailman, or someone else.

Not very many Wi-Fi cams offer this kind of technology, though, so your options are limited if you’re looking for a Wi-Fi cam that specifically comes with facial recognition. The same goes for video doorbells (the Nest Hello offers it), and that’s one product that would benefit the most from facial recognition.

Voice Assistant

Nest Cam IQ

This one is even rarer of a feature, but it exists. The Nest Cam IQ, specifically, can also double as a Google Home Mini of sorts, allowing you to shout out voice commands right to the camera. So if you’ve been wanting a Nest Cam and a Google Home, you can kill two birds with one stone.

It’s the only widely-available Wi-Fi cam that we know of that has a voice assistant built in, but the good news is that you can buy a separate Google Home Mini or Amazon Echo Dot for pretty cheap. So a built-in voice assistant isn’t a huge deal, but it’s certainly a nice way to go.

Alarm System

Canary Wi-Fi camera

Another somewhat rare feature for a Wi-Fi cam is a built-in alarm that can sound if the camera detects any kind of motion.

The Arlo Pro system is a good example. Although the camera itself doesn’t have the hardware for the siren, the hub that’s included does all that heavy lifting. The Canary is another example, and the siren is built into the camera, although the whole setup is a bit larger than most other Wi-Fi cameras.

As a lot of Wi-Fi cams are used for security purposes, a feature like this makes sense. Hopefully, more companies add this kind of functionality to future Wi-Fi cams.

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Craig Lloyd is a smarthome expert with nearly ten years of professional writing experience. His work has been published by iFixit, Lifehacker, Digital Trends, Slashgear, and GottaBeMobile.
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