What is Nest Aware? Is it worth the cost?


Google Nest Cam with Floodlight installed

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

If you’ve been interested in Google’s Nest Cams or Doorbells for your smart home, you’ve probably come across some mention of Nest Aware, a paid subscription service you can sign up for to increase its features. So what do you get from a Nest Aware subscription? Is it worth paying the recurring fee?

conscious nest

What is Nest Aware?

Nest Aware on Android phones

The main benefit of a Nest Aware subscription is an extended recording history. By default, Nest cameras record just three hours of event history, an “event” is a short clip triggered by sound or motion. That’s good enough if you’re awake and within arm’s reach of your phone, but not for incidents logged overnight or while traveling.

The standard Nest Aware subscription extends the event history to 30 days. Google sells an upgrade option, Nest Aware Plus, which extends this to 60 days and adds ten days of continuous video history if you need to see more footage. Just keep in mind that not all Nest cameras support continuous recording, the main restriction is anything battery-powered.

The main benefit of a Nest Aware subscription is an extended recording history.

The next biggest benefit is the detection of familiar faces. While the latest Nest Cams and Nest Doorbell Battery can distinguish between people, animals and vehicles using built-in AI, triggering corresponding notifications, Aware subscribers can teach their cameras to recognize individual friends and family. So instead of being alerted that a “person” is at the door, you’ll be told if it’s, say, Roger, Lakesha, or Stephanie.

Something less known about Aware is that it enables sound detection of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, not only by wired Nest Cams, but by any Google speaker or smart display. Speakers and displays can also trigger alerts when they hear glass breaking, and the Nest Hub Max will notify you if it hears someone speaking.

Lastly, Aware makes it easy to contact a local 911 call center. This won’t matter to most people, since you can always call emergency services on your own, but it can be helpful. If you’re out of town: Google’s “e911” technology connects you to the 911 dispatch closest to your home, instead of the one you’re currently at.

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How much does Nest Aware cost?

Google Nest doorbell video quality

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In its standard version, Nest Aware costs $6 a month or $60 a year, the latter saving you $12 a year, assuming you want to be a permanent subscriber. Either rate covers all Aware-enabled devices in your home, no matter how many you add. That differs from many smart security plans, which charge you more as you go beyond a single camera.

Nest Aware pricing increases to $12 per month or $120 per year if you opt for the Plus tier. Unlimited camera count persists, even with multiple devices recording 24/7.

Is there a free Nest Aware trial?

Google Nest Cam Lens Review 2021

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Yes. Once you set up a compatible device in the Nest or Google Home apps, you’ll be offered a 30-day trial. However, there is a limit of one trial per household, so don’t expect any reboots when adding or replacing cameras.

It’s also worth noting that trials are only offered where Nest Aware is sold; more on that in a moment.

How to sign up for Nest Aware

Nest Aware on the Google Store

You can sign up for Nest Aware or Aware Plus through the Google Store or through the Google Home app on Android devices. In the second scenario, tap Settings (gear icon), select Characteristics, and then conscious nest.

The following regions have access to Aware:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Swiss
  • United Kingdom
  • United States (except Puerto Rico)

How to manage your Nest Aware subscription

The Nest Hello doorbell in the shade

The most common method is to visit store.google.com/subscriptions and sign in with your Google account. There you will find options to change your payment methods, cancel a subscription, or switch from Aware to Aware Plus (and vice versa). You may need to select the three-dot menu to access some options.

If you signed up through the Google Home app, you would need to manage Aware through the Google Play Store. Once you have logged in, visit My Subscriptions and select Aware. Paste Manage to see the available options.

Generally speaking, any Aware subscription will continue to automatically renew (and bill you) until you cancel it. The exception is the 30-day free trial, which requires you to opt into payments to continue. When you cancel, Aware will remain active until the end of your current billing period, whether it’s a month or a year.

Should you pay for Nest Aware?

Google Nest Cam with Floodlight review Lights on at night

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Possibly, but there are two main criteria to meet. The first is the need for comprehensive home security. If you work from home all the time and live in a safe neighborhood, you could probably use a camera or two to search for packages or keep an eye on a child. But you might be able to get by easily with free event recording offered by some camera makers, even Google’s three hours.

If you’re regularly away from home and/or your neighborhood has crime issues, Aware’s event recording and facial recognition starts to matter. However, it is better to catch intruders in the act anyway.

The second is a commitment to the Google ecosystem, not only in cameras, but as a whole smart home platform. For example, if you have an Amazon Echo Show as your smart display, you’ll get more from Alexa-enabled cameras. Similarly, if you’re already using cameras from companies like Arlo or Wyze, it’s illogical to complicate your system by adding models from Google, regardless of whether you pay for Aware, which is exclusive to Nest hardware.

If you really need 24/7 protection and you’re prepared to just use Google, then Aware fits the bill.

The best Nest Aware compatible devices

Nest Doorbell Battery

Nest Doorbell Battery Ash Lifestyle

In an era where people get everything from dinner to gym equipment, and porch hackers are a serious threat, having a video doorbell makes sense. Beyond its Aware features, the Nest Doorbell Battery can be hardwired if you don’t want to recharge it every few months and record event footage for up to an hour after a Wi-Fi or power outage. Just know that it doesn’t support continuous recording with Aware Plus, even with its wired setup.

Nest camera battery

Nest Cam battery outdoors in the rain

Although the Nest Cam’s battery can be used indoors if you get a mount, it’s actually designed for use outdoors. It is waterproof and comes with a magnetic mount for easy outdoor installation and removal. Like its Doorbell sibling, the Nest Cam Battery can record for up to an hour after losing Wi-Fi, but it doesn’t record 24/7 with Aware Plus.

Nest Hub Max

Face Match on Google Nest Hub Max

The Nest Hub Max is pretty much a must for a full Google Home setup, even more so if you have Nest Aware. It’s a convenient way to view camera images, and the Max can act as its own camera, complete with sound and object recognition. When you’re not paying attention, you can do things like listen to music and podcasts, stream videos, and control other smart home accessories.

Wired Nest Cam

Google Nest Cam wired review placed at home

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On its own, the wired-only Nest Cam isn’t a great value compared to the competition. However, it becomes more attractive as part of a home with other Aware devices, as it’s cheaper than the Nest Cam battery and you’re not paying anything extra for its recognition and recording features. You can mount it on a wall or place it on a flat surface, but you can only record indoors as it is not waterproof.