Amazon is shutting down its previously free Alexa Guard service that notifies users about potential emergencies in favor of Alexa Emergency Assist, a new paid service that offers around-the-clock urgent response, smart alerts and emergency contacts.
This news comes following a series of announcements Amazon made regarding its Alexa voice assistant, which includes a new AI update to Alexa as well as the introduction of a smart home control panel.
The free version of Alexa Guard was included as a standard feature on Amazon Echo devices, but some of those features like smoke and CO alarm detection will be moved to the new Emergency Assist service, which is available for $5.99 a month or $59 per year, The Verge reported, citing an email that went out to Alexa Guard customers.
According to Amazon, customers who paid for the Guard Plus plan will get access to Alexa Emergency Assist for $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year.
Other Guard features, including Away Lighting, will now be available as part of the general Alexa experience, per the email.
The free version of Alexa Guard offered detection for smoke and CO alarm sounds, glass break sounds and the ability to turn lights on or off to make it seem like someone is home. Now, users will have to pay to access those previously free features on Alexa Emergency Assist.
The news came last week as Amazon announced several new Alexa features and smart home devices as part of its annual Devices and Services event.
“We’ve taken the top features customers know and love from Alexa Guard and Guard Plus to create the ultimate at-home hands-free safety service, with features like 24/7 Urgent Response, Smart Alerts, and Emergency Contacts to help keep everyone you care about safe while at home or away,” Amazon says in an announcement.
According to the website for Alexa Emergency Assist, users just need to say, “Alexa, call for help”, and they will be connected with an urgent response agent who will request dispatch of emergency services and pass on information from the user’s profile to first responders.
Designated emergency contacts will be informed through alerts whenever a call starts and ends, the company says.
Alexa Emergency Assist also proactively listens for acoustic signals, so users will be notified if an alarm is activated.
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