UPDATE: 9to5Mac reports that Withings has ditched their plans for HomeKit compatibility. According to their report, Withings has published the following statement,
Guided by our evolving business strategy, we will not be releasing Home Plus. We remain committed to providing Home with software updates and improvements, however, we no longer have plans for HomeKit compatibility.
I met Withings Home Plus at CES 2017. Home Plus isn't the first Withings camera, but it is the first one with HomeKit and the company's hoping HomeKit's enough to make it stand out from the crowd of connected home security cameras that already exist. In this review, we'll cover Withings Home and Withings Home Plus. What's the difference? Withings Home Plus includes Apple HomeKit support; that's it. Other than that one tiny feature, the two cameras are the same.
At CES, it's challenging to determine a camera's actual video quality. The internet connection can be spotty, which impacts a camera's performance. The Withings quality looked similar to other HD cameras I've tested, but it's supposed to be FHD 1080p quality. Perhaps it's capable of achieving FHD in someone's home where it has less bandwidth competition, and perhaps it's missing the secret ingredient needed to produce a quality picture?
The camera will live stream, swap to night vision when needed, and can digitally zoom in to give you a closer look. It records using a 5-megapixel sensor and a 135° wide angle lens.
Can It Protect Your Home?
Of course, what good is a home security camera if it can't protect your home? Withings Home and Home Plus include several features to make that happen. Primarily they protect using two-way audio and a plethora of sensors.
If Home or Home Plus detect motion, they will not only send a notification to your phone (iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV or Android) but will also record to the cloud. You can review recorded events from the timeline. From the timeline, you will have access to short clips, or you can create a timelapse to watch 48 hours' worth of footage in minutes. If you need more than two days' worth of storage, you can pay for a Cloud Video Recording Plan.
|Storage||2 Days of Clips||7 Days Continuous||30 Days Continuous|
|Timelapse Playback||2 Days||7 Days||30 Days|
Home and Home Plus also protect your home by offering continuous cloud recording. As mentioned in the chart above, you have to pay for this feature, but it's one of the greatest home security features possible. Currently, this feature is only rivaled by Nest Cam, setting Withings apart from many others.
In addition to detecting motion, Home and Home Plus detect sound and air quality issues (volatile organic compounds aka VOCs). Thanks to a recent firmware update, all three sensors are sensitivity adjustable so that you can help reduce false alarms. Also unlike Canary, Home and Home Plus will notify you if your air quality falls outside of normal range. In addition, the LED ring found on the bottom of the camera will turn red indicating there's an issue.
Another way Home and Home Plus reduce false alarms is by learning. Over time, the cameras will start to remember certain events. If something happens that it doesn't recognize as ordinary, it will alert you. If you prefer to receive all alerts, you can always turn smart alerts off. If you are concerned about privacy, you'll be happy to know that learning happens on the device, not in the cloud.
Modes and Privacy
Speaking of privacy, both cameras protect your home by protecting your data and privacy. The data collected by your camera is protected at the device, cloud, and app level using AES-256 and HTTPS. Also, the wood cover turns to physically cover the lens to ensure you have privacy when needed. In fact, you can even schedule private moments, but only if you're an Apple user.
Autopilot mode is the only mode limited to iOS users. Autopilot mode allows you to schedule when you want motion detection and when you don't. You can choose to schedule different modes including active monitoring, do not disturb, and camera off.
Besides Autopilot, all other modes are available to both Android and iOS users. Withings includes four modes: active monitoring, do not disturb, baby monitor, and camera off.
- Active Monitoring: Record Events & Receive Notifications
- Do Not Disturb: Record Events, But Do Not Send Notifications
- Baby Monitor: Automatic Audio Activation When App Is In Background If Noise Is Detected
- Camera Off: No Video Recording, No Notifications
IFTTT + HomeKit + Withings Home Plus
Withings Home and Home Plus don't try to protect your home on their own. They are both part of a very large gang thanks to IFTTT.
IFTTT is nothing new. Withings has had an active channel since March 2016. Using IFTTT, you can connect the camera to lots of other devices and services. For example, you can disarm the camera based on your phone's location, you can track air quality in a Google spreadsheet, turn on your lights if motion is detected, and more.
So what about HomeKit? Remember, HomeKit is only a feature of Withings Home Plus. Also remember HomeKit is an Apple thing and only available to Apple users. If you have Home Plus and an iOS device, you can use Siri to control your camera. For example, you can create a scene that will arm Withings, turn your lights off, lock your doors, and adjust your thermostat that you can run by speaking one voice command. HomeKit not only adds voice control but the ability to connect your camera to other HomeKit-enabled devices. Through Apple HomeKit integration, you will be able to:
- Access live streaming, VOC, motion sensor, and light through the Apple Home App
- Get camera screenshot notifications when activity is detected (noise or movement)
- Control and interact with Withings Home Plus with one tap or via Siri
- Create scenes using other HomeKit devices
All of the features described above help make Withings a viable baby monitor. It has motion detection, sound detection, night vision, two-way audio, and baby monitor mode. It also has other features including a soothing light and the ability to play lullabies.
What's confusing is that Withings also sells an actual baby monitor. Though you can find the baby monitor on Amazon, they no longer list it as a product on their official website which leads me to believe that they might be ditching the baby monitor in favor of a security camera pretending to be a baby monitor.
Should You Buy It?
Withings Home and Home Plus sound so good that I was almost tempted to buy one for testing. But what good is a ton of features if they don't work? Those who have braved the trail before me say the trail is not worth hiking. Withings currently sells for $158 on Amazon where it holds a 2.5 star rating. On iTunes, the app holds a 1.5 star rating, on Google Play it has 2.5 stars. We've reviewed a lot of cameras, these are not strong numbers, these are concerning numbers. Users state performance is unreliable. In some cases going as far as calling the camera "useless". The Withings Home Plus will be available this month and will retail for $199. Would I buy it? No. Would I suggest you buy it? No. I want so badly to love it. It has all the right pieces, but this is not the camera to protect your home or your baby.