Wyze discontinued free person detection, but I don’t mind (too much) – CNET

wyze-cam-outdoor-3

You now have to pay for Cam Plus to get person alerts, but it doesn’t matter (too much).


Chris Monroe/CNET

Wyze officially discontinued its free person alerts feature on Oct. 21. Now, whether you already have an account or plan to buy a new Wyze security camera, you have to subscribe to the company’s Cam Plus plan to receive “person detected” notifications on your phone. Person alerts are helpful because they filter out other motion happening around your house, like a car passing by or a branch swaying in the wind — and let you know which alerts to pay attention to.

The Seattle-based startup first impressed us with its low-priced smart home devices, especially the $8 Wyze Bulb and the last-gen $20 Wyze Cam. Most recently, it added a Wyze thermostat and video doorbell to the lineup and a new Wyze Cam that won a CNET Editors’ Choice award. Beyond the low initial cost of its products, Wyze’s security cameras in particular have additional value because they offer features like cloud storage, activity zones and, until this week, person alerts, for free. 

Wyze’s decision to roll person alerts into the new Cam Plus plan hurts its (historically excellent) value, but you still get 14 days of cloud storage for free, which higher-priced competitors like Google’s Nest and Amazon’s Ring — and many others — charge a monthly or yearly fee for. 

Cam Plus is annoying for sure, but Wyze gets so much right that the overall value is still there. If you specifically want free person alerts, this change is much more of a deal-breaker, but only select cameras like the Nest Hello and IQ models, as well as the Eufy Indoor Cam 2K offer person alerts for free (although both Google and Eufy charge a fee for cloud storage, so there’s a significant trade-off).

Rewind

On Nov. 26, 2019, Wyze sent an email to customers, alerting them that the free person alerts feature would be temporarily unavailable starting mid-January. Wyze had ended its partnership with Xnor.ai, the third-party company providing its person alerts. but vowed to bring back its own version of the free alerts later in 2020:

In a nutshell: Person Detection will be temporarily removed from Wyze Cam beginning with a new firmware release planned for mid-January 2020, due to the unexpected termination of our agreement with our AI provider. We are preparing to roll out our own in-house version of Person Detection next year, which will remain free for our users.”

Then, on July 20, Wyze sent out an update: Person detection would be returning, but it wouldn’t be for free for everyone. 

“Our issue is that in an email last year, we promised 1.3M of our earliest users that when we finished building person detection that it would be free; even if it was cloud-based. You are receiving this email because you are one of the people that received that promise.”

Customers who created a Wyze account on or before Nov. 26, 2019 (when that initial email was sent) would have to sign up for Cam Plus like everyone else, but they could name their own price, starting at $0 — and they wouldn’t get the other benefits of Cam Plus; only free person alerts. Everyone who created an account after Nov. 26, 2019 would have to sign up for Cam Plus proper and pay a monthly fee. Cam Plus starts at $2 per month; learn more here.

Oct. 21, 2020 was the last day existing Wyze customers (with accounts created on or before Nov. 26, 2019) could log in to their accounts to name their own price for free person alerts:

“This is the last email you’ll receive about pay-what-you-want Person Detection because after today, it goes away! It’s October 21st, the final day to name your own price (even $0) for this feature

“To clarify, the Person Detection feature is not going away. After today, you’ll only be able to get it with a subscription to CAM Plus, which combines Person Detection, Complete Motion Capture, and more into one awesome service.”

Now what?

Yep, this is all pretty annoying. It’s also awkward to log into a subscription plan and type $0, which Wyze is betting on, hoping that you name a higher price. That said, Wyze has been communicative with customers, letting them know what is happening and why — with the ultimate goal of getting back to free person alerts for everyone at some point. 

We’ll see if the “free-person-alerts-for-all” thing ever comes back, but in the meantime, models like the Wyze Cam Indoor still only cost 20 bucks and include 14 days of free cloud storage for video clips, optional local storage via a built-in microSD card slot and other options that still make its value unbeatable. (And, yes, that is a challenge to other companies to try to beat Wyze’s value.)


Now playing:
Watch this:

Wyze’s awesome outdoor security camera is only $50

4:08

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *