How Nest cameras automatically switch to Home or Away

With presence sensing, your Google Nest camera can use your phone’s location to automatically start the video stream when you’re away and stop the video stream once you get home. You don’t have to set a schedule or manually switch the video stream on or off.

For your camera to automatically turn the video stream on and off, the following must be true:

  • Your camera has to be set up with either Home & Away Routines in the Google Home app (which requires you to use a Google Account with your Nest devices and services) or Home/Away Assist in the Nest app.
  • For presence sensing to automatically switch your camera on or off, location sharing needs to be turned on for your phone so that your camera knows when you leave or come home with your phone.

Important things to know about camera behavior

  • Unlike other Nest products that can use both your phone’s location and sensor data to know whether you’re home, your camera only uses your phone’s location to automatically switch the video stream on or off. 
  • People who share access to your home must have their phones when they leave or come home for the video stream to switch on or off automatically.
  • The camera switches on when everyone with shared access leaves with their phone. This is Away mode.
  • The camera switches off when the first person comes back home. This is Home mode.
  • Your camera doesn’t switch off if other Nest products detect activity in your home because they can’t tell if the activity is from you or not. This is for security reasons.
  • When you leave, there can be a short delay before your camera automatically switches on. It can also switch off a little before you walk in the door.
  • When your camera switches to Home mode or is turned off manually, the video stream stops but your camera remains powered so that you can still control it in the app.

Note: To use Home & Away Routines with your Nest devices, you must use a Google Account to access your home, and use the Home app. Read our FAQ about accounts for the Nest app in our help center.

 

What happens when you come and go

When you’re away: Your camera uses your phone’s location to know that you’re gone, so the video stream turns on.

If your camera senses activity while you’re away, a notification can tell you there’s been activity, or in some cases, that your camera has spotted a person.

When you’re home: Your camera turns off the video stream automatically. Your camera doesn’t notify you of your own activity at home.

When the video stream is turned off when you’re home, your home internet connection’s bandwidth can free up for other activities, like when you stream movies or play online games.

The table below summarizes what your camera does when you’re at home with your phone or when you leave with it.

 

Home

Away

Video stream

Off

On

Activity alerts

Off

On

Video history recorded to cloud

(available with a Nest Aware subscription)

Off

On

Camera power (for Wi-Fi connection)

On

On

Important: Your phone needs to be with you for your Nest camera to automatically detect when you’re home or away. For example, if you forget your phone at home, your camera doesn’t turn on automatically because it thinks you’re still there.

Automatic switching can override manual switching

When you manually switch your home to Home or Away with the Home app or Nest app, your camera and other Nest products adjust to the appropriate settings.

Presence sensing can override the manual Home or Away mode and automatically switch your camera on or off if you leave or come home.

For example, if you manually switch to Away as you leave home, your camera starts to video stream. Once your camera detects that your phone has returned home, it automatically switches to Home and turns the video stream off. It doesn’t wait for you to manually switch to Home.

How automatic switching for Nest camera works with shared access

If more than one person shares access to your home, your camera starts to video stream only when everyone’s phone is out of the home. This means the camera turns on the video stream when the last person has left, and turns off the video stream when the first person comes home.

For your camera to know whether someone’s home or away, they need to sign into their own account with their phone to share access to your home.

Important: Every person must use their own account on their phone when they share access to your connected home. Issues for automatic switching can occur when two or more phones have the same account. For example, your camera might not correctly detect when a person is gone or at home because the same account has two phone locations: one at home and the other away from home.

How schedules can cause issues with automatic switching for your camera

We recommend you either set a camera schedule or set your camera to turn on or off automatically as you come and go rather than use them at the same time. If you use both, it can cause unexpected behavior and get confusing.

For example, if your camera is scheduled to be on from 8am to 6pm, but you come home with your phone at 2pm, the camera switches off automatically. When you leave with your phone at 3pm, the camera automatically switches back on. Then it switches off as scheduled at 6pm, even if no one is back home by then.

Use different settings for different cameras    

Automatic, schedule, or always on

If you have multiple cameras, you have the choice to automatically turn off the stream when you come and go, set a schedule, or keep the video stream on all the time for each camera in your home.

For example, you can have your outdoor cameras or video doorbell stay on all the time so you can screen visitors at the front door or get an alert if someone goes into your backyard. Meanwhile, you can have your kitchen camera set to automatically stream video while you’re away and stop the video stream once you come home.

Alert settings

For each camera, you can choose to receive activity notifications either all the time or only when no one’s home. Each person with shared access can also set their own preferences for when they want to receive notifications on their phone.

For example, instead of automatically turning your camera on and off, you can set it to be on all the time and set notifications to send to your phone only when no one’s home. Your camera stays on and only sends alerts when you and anyone with shared access has left home.

Turn automatic switching on or off for your camera

Go to app settings for your home to turn automatic switching your camera on or off. Anyone else who can access your devices can do this too.

Note: If you turn off phone location sharing for use with presence sensing, your camera will no longer switch automatically as you come and go. This is because it only uses your phone’s location to know when you leave or come home.

In the Home app, change Home & Away Routines settings. This is only available to users that use Nest devices and services with a Google Account. 

In the Nest app, change Home/Away Assist settings.

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