Amazon has kitted-out its hugely-popular Echo smart speakers with the ability to guard your home using its always-listening microphone. Dubbed Alexa Guard, the free update monitors for any signs of danger or usual activity – like the sound of glass breaking, doors being forced open, or a smoke alarm, for example.
If the AI-powered smart assistant detects any unusual sounds while you're away from the home, it will ping your smartphone to alert you. It will also send an audio recording so that you can make sure it's not the cat clumsily knocking over a plant pot before you call in the blues and twos.
If you own an Amazon Echo with a built-in camera, like the Echo Show, Alexa Guard can also display a video feed direct from inside your home. If that sounds familiar at all, it's likely because it's very similar to one of the headline features of the Google Nest Hub Max, announced earlier this month, which incorporates Nest security camera features into the front-facing camera when owners are out of the house.
In addition to listening out for suspicious sounds, Alexa Guard can also mimic your daily light routines with any connected smart lighting – switching lights and lamps on and off at similar times so that it looks as if someone is home when you're away.
This has huge potential and will be an easy way to protect against nefarious types watching your home for signs of life without spending hours setting-up an IFTTT routine for your smart plugs and bulbs.
It's important to note that Amazon is very clear that this isn't a replacement for a home alarm system and cannot alert the authorities when you're sure something untoward has happened while you're away. However, it's definitely a start. And it's miles more functionality than you'll find on rivals like Google Home and HomePod.
The new update is rolling-out in the United States now, with more countries to follow in the future. After the app update lands on your phone, Alexa Guard can be enabled within the Alexa companion app on iOS or Android.
Head to Settings > Guard, then follow the on-screen prompts. Once you're all set-up, you'll be able activate the security-focused mode by saying “Alexa, I’m leaving” each time you're leaving the property and want to activate Guard mode.
Those who don't already have some security-focused smart home products, like the excellent Ring doorbell, might want to give this a try. It's not the most secure option out there, but it's free. So, you can't really argue with that.