How your camera works with Home/Away Assist

With Home/Away Assist, your camera can automatically start streaming video when you’re away and stop streaming once you get home.

While you can set a camera schedule and turn your camera on and off manually, with Home/Away Assist, your camera can also use your phone’s location to turn on or off automatically. You don’t have to set a schedule or think about whether your camera is streaming; it’ll switch on and off as you come and go.

What happens when you come and go 

If you’ve set your camera to be switched by Home/Away Assist, it will automatically start streaming video when you leave, and it’ll stop streaming when you return home. Having your camera turned off when you’re home can free up your home internet connection’s bandwidth for other activities like streaming movies or playing online games. And you can always turn your camera back on manually if you want.

Let’s say you’ve left for the day. Your camera turns on automatically when you leave. Then it detects motion inside your home. Maybe it’s just your neighbor coming in to feed the cat – or a stranger who’s not supposed to be there. Home/Away Assist knows you’re gone, so your camera will continue to stream video. It can also send a notification to your phone, telling you there’s been activity, or, even better, that your camera spotted a person. You can quickly check the camera’s live stream to see who’s there, and use Talk and Listen to thank your neighbor for looking after your cat. When you get home, your camera turns off automatically, and it won’t send you alerts for your own activity in your home.

Here is a table summarizing what your camera does when your phone is with you at home or when you take it with you when you leave.

  Home Away

Camera and video stream

Turns Off

Turns On

Activity alerts



Video history recorded to cloud
(with Google Nest Aware subscription)



How your camera knows when you're home or away 

Unlike other Nest products that use both their sensor data and your phone’s location, your camera relies on your phone’s location to determine when to automatically turn on or off. This is for security reasons. Activity seen by your Google Nest Thermostat and Google Nest Protect sensors won’t turn off cameras because they can’t be sure if it’s an intruder, you or a family member.

Cameras in your home won’t switch on until all phones that are set to help with Home/Away Assist are gone, and they won’t switch off until at least one of the phones returns to your home.

          How Home/Away Assist uses your phone’s location >

On the other hand, when you manually switch your Nest home to Home or Away mode with the Nest app, all your Nest products, including your camera will automatically adjust to the new mode.

For instance, if you have a house sitter taking care of things while you’re gone, you can manually switch the Nest app to Home. Your camera will turn off and, if you have a Nest Thermostat, it will keep your home comfortable for the house sitter.

Important: You need to have your phone with you for your Nest camera to automatically detect when you’re away. So if you forget your phone at home, your camera will think you’re still there, and it won’t turn on automatically. If this happens, you can turn on your camera manually, or manually switch your home to Away, using the Nest app on a phone, tablet or computer.

How it works when other people share access to your Nest home 

In Nest homes where more than one person uses the Nest app for shared access, Google Nest cameras turn on the video stream only when everyone’s phones are out of the home. This means the camera won’t turn on until the last family member has left, and the camera will turn off when the first person comes home.

In order for your Nest camera to know whether someone’s home or away, they need to have the Nest app on their phone and be signed in to share access to your home with their own account. It’s easy to invite people to share access to your home with the Nest app.

Basic rules for cameras with Home/Away Assist 

Here’s a summary of the main points for cameras and Home/Away Assist. For more details, see the other sections in this article.

  • Home/Away Assist only uses your phone’s location to automatically switch your camera on and off, so if your Protect or Thermostat notice activity in your home, your camera won’t switch off.
  • If other people are using the Nest app to share access to your home, your camera will wait to switch on or off until all phones have left or the first one comes back.
  • There can be a short delay before your camera automatically switches on when you leave, and it may switch off a little before you walk in the door.

Manual switching 

  • Manually setting your home’s mode to Home or Away with the Nest app will switch your camera on or off, but it will switch again as soon as all phones have left or the first one comes back.
  • You can manually switch your camera on or off with the Nest app whenever you want.
  • If you manually turn your camera on or off, it will stay in that state until you manually switch again, you leave and come home again, or a set schedule switches it. 

How Home/Away Assist works with your camera's schedule 

You can set a camera schedule and set your camera to be switched by Home/Away Assist. Your camera will honor the schedule you’ve set but will also be switched on and off by people’s phone locations.

This can cause some unexpected behavior. For instance, if your camera is scheduled to be on from 8am to 6pm, but you come home with your phone at 2pm, the camera will switch off. When you leave with your phone at 3pm, the camera will switch back on. Then it will automatically switch off as scheduled at 6pm, even if no one is back home by then.

While you can use a schedule and have Home/Away Assist switch your camera on and off at the same time, we recommend using only one or the other if things get confusing.

How to turn Home/Away Assist on and off for your camera 

You can use the Nest app to turn Home/Away Assist on and off, and change what happens when your home is occupied or empty. Anyone else who shares access to your home with the Nest app can do this too.

          How to change Home/Away Assist settings >

Using Home/Away Assist for some of your cameras, but not all of them 

You can have different Home/Away Assist settings for each of the Nest cameras in your home.

You may want to turn on Home/Away Assist for some cameras, but not use it for other cameras so they’ll continue to stream video while you’re home. For instance, you can have your outdoor cameras stay on so you can screen visitors at the front door or get an alert if someone goes into your backyard.

How to stream video while you're home and turn off alerts 

You can set your camera to stream video all the time, so you can record important moments with your family, friends, and pets. You can also set activity alerts to be off when you’re home so you won’t be bothered by them. Here’s how:

  1. Turn off Home/Away Assist for your camera.
  2. Set your camera’s alerts to “Only when no one’s home.”
  3. Turn on your camera if it’s not already on.

You can set alerts for each camera individually. For instance, if you have a Google Nest Cam Outdoor, you may want to continue getting alerts while you’re home, so you’ll know when activity is happening outside your home.

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