Canary Now Charging for Previously Free Security Cam Features Due to ‘Significant’ Cloud Expenses

Home security camera company Canary has updated the features included in its free and paid subscription packages over the past few days, removing multiple camera abilities that were once free to all users and placing them behind the company's $9.99/month paywall. Subscriptions increase to $14.99/month for 2-3 cameras, and an additional $4.99/month for each added device.

Many Canary customers have emailed and Tweeted us over the past few days pointing out the changes, and now Canary has provided a statement to The Verge regarding its motivations.

The Canary Flex and Canary cameras

Under the terms of the new "Free Service," Canary users can no longer use Night Mode if they aren't paying, meaning they can't set their camera to record clips when motion is detected in the nighttime. Canary Free Service members can no longer record videos or receive motion alerts in Home Mode, nor can they record a full clip from when motion is detected to when the motion ends. Instead, for Free Service members the Canary Cam automatically cuts off the clip ten seconds after the first motion is seen. Canary calls these "digestible video previews."

Canary Free Service members also can't download and share videos from the iOS app, but can bookmark an unlimited amount of video previews to their timeline. All of these are features that were previously free, and now require users to become a paid "Canary Member." As MacRumors readers have pointed out on Twitter, this means that even if you bought a Canary device months ago under the impression of not needing a paid subscription for basic features, you will now have to pay the company to keep on using the most useful abilities of the security cameras, or attempt to return or sell them.


Some basic features of the cams remain intact for Free Service members, like watching a feed live while in Home Mode without needing to switch to a different "Away" mode. Canary has updated the timeline as well, so that multiple cameras in one home have 24 hours of history for each individual device, instead of those 24 hours being divided up across devices.

According to Canary's FAQ page, the membership update comes with a change in its cloud service implementation, and the prior Free Service tier "will no longer be available." Understandably, the frustrations of many users center around Canary's last-minute announcement of the changes (September 28), which came less than one week ahead of the official implementation (October 3).
Can I keep my legacy plans rather than switching to the new Free Service?
No. All customers who are not on Canary Membership will shift to our new Free Service experience. This is a change in our cloud service implementation, and the prior Free Service experience will no longer be available.
Canary co-founder and chief design officer Jon Troutman issued the following statement on the situation to The Verge:
"Today we stream nearly 500 million video clips per day. Most Canary users rely on notifications, Watch Live, and their timeline images to determine what is happening in their homes or businesses, which means that hundreds of millions of recorded videos travel through our platform unwatched, making the system slower, and costing Canary a significant amount in cloud expenses. To address this, we have aligned all free users on a plan that provides Video Previews that are still maintained on a 24-hour timeline. We have also introduced a faster Watch Live experience that can now be enabled while Canary devices are set to Away or Home mode. Our goal with these changes was to maintain a highly-competitive free service option while enabling continuous innovation and new feature development for all users."
Canary's stance appears to consistently state that too many recorded videos were traveling through the Canary platform "unwatched," leading to a slowdown of the service for some users, as well as "costing Canary a significant amount in cloud expenses." As such, the company has adjusted the Free Service tier by paring down to ten second video previews, removing Night Mode, and preventing users from downloading and sharing videos within the Canary app.

Amid all of the turmoil over the new subscription plans, there's also still no word from Canary about when HomeKit support will launch with the Canary Plus. Canary first announced the HomeKit-enabled camera in June 2016 for a release sometime that fall.

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Canary Announces Two-Way Audio Calling Between Security Camera and iOS App

Security camera company Canary recently announced a trio of new features coming to its smart home security system and mobile apps, including two-way audio calls between a Canary camera and smartphone, a live security feed with reduced latency, and an all-new web app with live streaming.

Rolling out over the course of this week is a refreshed version of Canary's "Watch Live" feature, which "dramatically" reduces the latency of live videos being recorded by the Canary camera. The company said it's done away with a five second delay previously found in Watch Live, allowing users a "virtually real-time" look into their home while watching on an iOS or Android device.

Prior to the release of 2.7.0, you may have experienced a delay of about 5 seconds between what you saw in the Canary app and the activity that was actually occurring in an environment. With the new and improved Watch Live experience, latency has decreased, giving you a virtually real-time view into your home.

To achieve this, we completely redesigned the backend of Watch Live to prioritize real-time video delivery. By implementing a dedicated video pipeline, and adding adaptive video quality to the Watch Live experience, we were able to make Watch Live truly live.
Canary also announced a user-requested feature that enables two-way audio calls between the security camera in a home, and a user with a smartphone outside of the home. Called "Canary Talk," the company described the feature as a home intercom, allowing users to simply tap a microphone button when in Watch Live to have their voice broadcast to anyone in the vicinity of their Canary. At-home users can then respond to the call by simply talking anywhere near the Canary.


Canary Talk will be available in the new version update 2.7.0 on the company's iOS and Android apps, but will debut first in the Canary All-in-One device, then launch sometime in September for Canary Flex devices. No matter which Canary it's used on, Canary Talk will require the company's $9.99/month subscription membership.
Whether you’re using it to talk to the kids, a nanny, an aging parent, your new puppy, or to ward off an intruder, Canary Talk gives you a voice at home no matter how far from it you are.
Additionally, any Canary membership users can now stream live video and view recorded content from their camera while on a desktop or mobile browser. The company said that the introduction of its new live-streaming web app will help Canary users watch their home while they are at work, without needing to bring up their smartphone.

The 2.7.0 update for Canary is available to download now on the iOS App Store. [Direct Link]

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Canary Brings Live-Streaming and Archived Footage to Apple TV With New App

Connected security camera company Canary is today launching a new update to its app that introduces support for the fourth-generation Apple TV, letting users view their camera's live stream on their television, or watch older recordings saved within the app. Prior to the Apple TV app, Canary users only had the company's mobile app to view content captured via a Canary or Canary Flex system (via TechCrunch).

canary-apple-tv
When the Apple TV app is opened, Canary users will be presented with a dashboard and choose between live and recorded feeds. For those who have multiple Canary cameras, the app will initially open upon a "Location view," so they can choose which system to access video.

canary-apple-tv-2
Canary cameras record movement as "events," so users can scrub through each on the Apple TV app, bookmark important ones, delete those deemed unnecessary to save, and jump to the next one with a Related Videos section under each of these events. The version 2.0.2 update to the Canary app also brings support for iPads and Android tablets.

In addition to HD video capture, the Canary cameras monitor air quality and include a built-in 90 decibel siren that users can activate through the mobile app to scare off intruders the camera notices within the home. The Canary Flex has many of the same camera-capturing features as the basic model, with the added bonus of a completely weatherproof outer shell.

Canary can be downloaded from the iOS App Store for free [Direct Link]. The 2.0.2 update has yet to hit the App Store, but should begin rolling out today.

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