Yet a company that charges its customers extra money for using existing features as subscription-based home content becomes the norm. Amazon-owned Ring is making several free features part of its paid subscription program starting March 29. On that date, if you have a Ring video doorbell or camera, you’ll no longer be able to access Home and Away Mode in the app with no subscription fees, starting at $3.99 a month ($39.99 a year). Modes are a simple way to tell all your cameras to stop detecting motion when you’re home and start when you leave.
Additionally, all new Ring Alarm system users on or after March 29 must pay for a Ring Protect plan to arm and disarm the system from the app, using the feature Modes, receive notifications, and control them with their voice through Alexa. . Linking your Ring doorbell and cameras to your alarm system will also cost you.
Existing Ring Alarm customers will not lose access to any of these features. However, as one Reddit user pointed out, there is no guarantee that Ring will continue to allow legacy users to have the features they paid for. “Based on this type of behavior, I believe they will boil us frogs at some point. This is the stage of misdirection,” he wrote.
Linking your Ring doorbell and cameras to your alarm system will also cost you
This move, buried in an update on the company’s support site, makes the previously very affordable DIY security system one of the more expensive options in a competitive field. None of its main competitors – SimpliSafe and Abode – charge anything for the ability to self-monitor your alarm system (including arming or disarming the system from the app or receiving notice).
SimpliSafe previously charged for access to its app but introduced a free tier that provides these basic features, likely due to pressure from competitors like Ring. Similarly, Abode doesn’t charge for self-monitoring or Alexa integration but does charge for access to its own home automation system.
To get access to the Ring app and Alexa for controlling your alarm system, new users must sign up for the Basic Ring Protect plan ($3.99 a month or $39.99 a year). You only need to pay for the Pro plan ($20 a month, $200 a year) if you want to add professional monitoring to your system, or any of the other features it offers. It used to cost just $10 per month, but Ring raised all plan prices last year.
You also now have to pay for the Basic plan to get the Modes feature on cameras, even existing users. The plan adds free recording for a camera and human alerts.
While the camera bait and switch seems more extreme – it’s retroactive, while the Ring Alarm change only applies to new users on March 29 – if you’re using Ring cameras and doorbells without a plan to subscription, then the Modes feature is not very useful to you.
The modes switch your camera’s motion detection settings on or off based on whether you’re home or away, preventing you from taking too many motion-activated recordings around your home. . If you don’t pay for the recorded video, you won’t get those. Camera users still have access to live view, two-way talk, motion detection, and alerts.
These changes make Ring Alarm useless as a smart alarm system without a subscription
The changes to Ring Alarm are essentially useless as a smart alarm system without a subscription, however. You can only arm and disarm it using the Ring Alarm keypad, and you won’t receive app or email alerts when your alarm is triggered; only the siren at the base station will alert you. You also can’t disarm it remotely — so if the alarm goes off while you’re away, your neighbors will just have to suffer until you get home.
Smart home subscriptions have long been inevitable, even if many consumers are reluctant. It costs companies money to run clouds and provide support, something many may have realized too late (see Wyze, Arlo, etc.). The home security space is particularly vulnerable. Many startups have tried to take over legacy systems by drastically reducing their prices, only to realize that they now have to make money somehow.
Updated, Friday, March 3, 11:30 AM: It’s clear that you need a Ring Protect Basic plan ($3.99 a month) to get access to Ring Alarm’s new paywalled features. The Ring Protect Pro plan ($20 a month) is not required.