gadgets Technology Reviews

Ring brazenly puts key camera features behind paywall and users are fuming

Amazon-owned smart home company Ring has announced it is placing a host of essential, and currently free, in-app features behind its subscription paywall.

The company emailed customers on Thursday to tell them the Home and Away modes would only be available to Ring Video Doorbell and Ring Camera owners with a Ring Protect Plan subscription.

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Furthermore, those same customers won’t even be able to access Amazon Alexa voice controls via the app without forking over monthly dues. This is the same Alexa that Amazon runs and is free to use pretty much everywhere.

Home Mode is essential, for example, as it tells the cameras you’re around and won’t trigger motion alarms when you’re innocently milling about in the living room. Likewise, the Away Mode is pretty important too, as activating it will ensure the cameras are recording at all times and any sensors you have set up around the home will be on the look out for motion.

The move hasn’t gone down well with hardware owners who’re naturally peeved that benefits that came with their purchase are being taken away.

Other features that are part of the hardware purchase price – including live view and motion detection – will remain outside of the paywall.

In the email I received on Thursday and further explained in a Q&A post, Ring told customers: “We’re writing to let you know about a change that might affect how you use your Ring device. Beginning March 29, 2023, Ring doorbells and cameras will require a Ring Protect Plan subscription to access the Home and Away Modes feature.

“Home and Away Modes allow you to set your Ring doorbells and cameras to Home or Away Mode and customise settings in the Ring app and Alexa. Learn more about Modes. You will not lose access to other features like Live View, Two-Way Talk, Motion Detection and Alerts.”

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