Google has just unveiled a whole new generation of Nest Cams for nearly every room in your home, with a series of hardware and software improvements. Chief among these are three enhancements that make these cams usable without the Aware subscription.

Current Nest cam owners know that owning the hardware is quasi pointless if you don't upgrade to a paid Aware plan. You can only livestream the cams or view short snapshots of events in the last three hours. Anything older or more important requires the $6 or $12 monthly subscription. Additionally, you can't set up activity zones with the free plan to only monitor the areas that matter, so any movement anywhere in the cam's field-of-view will trigger an alert. Smart object or people detection is paid too.

Existing benefits of the paid Aware plans.

With the new generation of cameras, things are changing for the better. First, the on-device processing means that these cams don't need to rely on the cloud to recognize an animal from a vehicle or a person or a package. It also means you can set up activity zones so that the camera only monitors and triggers alerts when it sees movement there, and not anywhere else in the frame. Both of these features are now free and don't require a Nest Aware plan.

On top of that, the three hours of snapshots have been upgraded to real event videos, so you can view the proper recording instead of a short little blurb.

Of course, there will always be benefits in upgrading to a paid plan: you get at least events for the past 30 days and familiar face detection (the free plan only tells you if it's a person or not, the paid one can recognize who that person is), on top of the other Nest Aware benefits.

But still, these improvements make the fleet of new Nest cams significantly more useful, even for those who choose to eschew the paid subscription, and that's a great step forward in our opinion. Take those 3 hours of events up to 12, or even 24, and we're golden.