While purchasing stand-alone smart devices like thermostats and video doorbells is one way to add on-the-go controls to your mobile devices, integrating a reliable voice assistant makes using this equipment so much more engaging.
Alexa and Google Assistant, Amazon and Google’s respective assistants, are two highly intelligent learning tools that help us effectively manage and monitor our smart spaces, both at home and while we’re away. For those of us that spend a bulk of our days outside of the homestead, Amazon’s family of Echo speakers and Google’s lineup of Nest products offer several home security extensions as part of both hub systems. In the Amazon realm, this security suite is known as Alexa Guard. For Google users, the service is called Nest Aware.
In a nutshell, Alexa Guard and Nest Aware work independently and alongside the smart security products in your home to provide users with things like motion and sound notifications, along with other relevant security alerts and emergency services. Is one smart security package better than the other though? We decided to look at both platforms side by side to determine which is the better of the two.
Amazon’s Alexa Guard offers two distinct tiers of service — the free version of the home monitoring suite referred to simply as Alexa Guard, along with a paid version of the service known as Alexa Guard Plus.
Under the free tier, Alexa Guard will use the far-field mics on your Echo products to listen for the sounds of glass breaking and fire/carbon monoxide alarms in your home. If these sounds are detected, Alexa will send a notification to whatever mobile device you use the Alexa app on. When enabled, Alexa Guard will also randomly turn on/off smart lights to make it seem like someone is home, and can even be integrated with Ring Alarm, ADT Pulse, ADT Control, and Scout Alarm for additional home monitoring.
With Alexa Guard Plus, additional benefits include access to Amazon’s 24/7 emergency hotline, the ability for Echo products to listen for intrusive sounds around the home, as well as dog barks and siren sounds that will play if your Echo speaker or display detects motion or hears an intruder.
Google’s Nest Aware also offers two tiers of service, although both are locked behind paywalls. The standard Nest Aware plan interfaces with a number of Google’s Nest cameras and video doorbells, allowing you to store motion-triggered event videos in Google’s cloud for up to 30 days. While you can still use a Nest camera or doorbell without a Nest Aware subscription, you won’t be able to save any video events.
The standard Nest Aware plan also includes Nest speaker and display monitoring for the sounds of glass breaking, smoke/carbon monoxide alarms, along with a feature called ‘familiar face detection’ that allows your smart cameras to learn who your friends and family are by adding them as recognized visitors in the Nest app. That means whenever your uncle shows up at the front door, your Nest doorbell will send you an alert saying “Uncle Mark is at the front door.”
The second tier of service is known as Nest Aware Plus, and it adds 60 days of video event storage, as well as 10 days of 24/7 continuous video recording. As part of both tiers of service, users also have the ability to dial 911 through the Google Home app in the event of an emergency.
In years past, users would have to pay for a Nest Aware plan for each Nest product in their smart ecosystem. Thankfully, Google lightened the load by allowing Nest Aware plans to apply to every compatible Nest device on your network.
In terms of overall features, both Alexa Guard and Nest Aware are fairly neck and neck, but Nest Aware grants users the ability to store potentially crucial event videos to the Home app for future reference. While both versions of Alexa Guard offer quite a bit, cloud storage for event recordings is not one of them. Thus, Nest Aware earns a point.
As mentioned, Amazon offers two tiers of Alexa Guard. The standard Alexa Guard plan is actually completely free. The second tier, Alexa Guard Plus, costs $5 per month or $50 per year and covers all the Echo devices on your network.
Google’s Nest Aware is also available in two different tiers. The regular Nest Aware subscription is $6 per month or $60 per year, with Nest Aware Plus costing $12 per month or $120 per year. Do keep in mind that the latter nets homeowners an extra 30 days of video event storage, along with 24/7 continuous video recording.
Speaking purely of overall value, we’re giving a point to Alexa Guard. Not to undermine any of the great features one gets with Nest Aware, but it’s especially convenient for device owners to be able to experience smart security add-ons at no cost whatsoever.
Setup and compatibility
Activating Alexa Guard is a fairly quick process that is handled straight through the Alexa app. To get things started, grab whatever device your Alexa app is on and launch it. Next, tap More, then Settings. Under Settings, tap Guard, then Set Up Guard. From here, all you need to do is follow the onscreen instructions to complete your setup.
When leaving the home, all you have to do to enable Alexa Guard is say “I’m leaving” to your Echo device. Your smart hub will display a spinning white light, indicating Alexa Guard is toggled on. When you return home, simply say “I’m home” to turn off Guard.
Alexa Guard and Alexa Guard Plus are supported by Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot speakers, Echo Show displays, and Echo Plus products.
Unlike Alexa Guard, once a Nest Aware plan is added to your Google Home account, the service is active across all devices until you decide to cancel it. No toggle on/off required.
Nest Aware and Nest Aware Plus are supported by Google’s Nest Cam IQ, Nest Hello, Nest Cam Outdoor, Nest Cam Outdoor IQ, and Nest Hub Max.
The ability to toggle Alexa Guard on/off is convenient but not necessarily a dealbreaker when weighing both systems. In terms of support, both Guard and Nest offer great compatibility across their smart home ecosystems. Let’s call this one a draw.
John Velasco / Digital Trends
Both Alexa Guard and Nest Aware offer several ways to keep your home under lock and key while you’re out for the day or vacationing for several weeks. While Nest Aware is a bit heavier on the wallet, the ability to store event-triggered and consistent video recordings (with Nest Aware Plus) is a huge perk for Google Home users.
That being said, Alexa Guard offers plenty of its own awesome features, full Echo compatibility, along with a free tier of the Guard service for those that want to give it a try without committing to a monthly membership.
A tough call, indeed. So, in fairness to both brands, we’re going to wave the white flag and call this matchup a tie.