Amazon terminating Cloud Cam service, Giving owners a free Blink Mini

Amazon is ending support for its Cloud Cam security camera and offering owners a free Blink Mini to replace it. Cloud Cam owners will be able to use their cameras and download video until December 2 of this year, after which all recordings will be deleted, and the hardware will no longer function.

Customers with the Cloud Cam Key Edition will also lose the ability to connect to intelligent locks, although they can get a free fourth-generation Echo to replace the functionality.

“As the number of Alexa smart home devices continues to grow, we are focusing efforts on Ring, Blink, and other technologies that make your home smarter and simplify your everyday routines. Therefore, we have decided to continue no longer support for Amazon Cloud Cam and its companion apps,” Amazon said in its email, which was also posted on Reddit.

In a statement to MacRumors, Amazon added that “we will continue to offer innovative smart home security solutions for our customers through Amazon’s Ring and Blink brands.” It also specified that it will give Blink Mini cameras to users who are “still actively using their Cloud Cam,” although it’s not clear if that’s a formal criterion for getting the free replacement.

Cloud Cam owners will be emailed instructions for redeeming their free Blink Mini and (for Key Edition owners) Echo before the December 2 deadline. The Blink Mini will come with a one-year subscription to Blink Subscription Plus, typically costing $10 per month or $100 per year. A subscription either to Plus or the $3 per month single-camera Basic plan is required for many Blink features, including rapid access to videos and motion-activated recording. Cloud Cam also required a paid subscription for advanced features, although it offered some free options that require payment on the Blink Mini.

The Cloud Cam lineup launched in 2017 and wound down in late 2019 after Amazon acquired Blink and Ring’s security camera makers. Now, Amazon follows a well-established pattern of companies bricking innovative home hardware because they no longer want to support its ecosystem. So customers won’t be left entirely without recourse thanks to the replacement but they’ll still have some useless hardware they may have bought just a few years ago.

Blink is best known for its line of battery-powered security cameras that can last for up to two years on a single charge. So what better to complement Blink’s battery-powered cameras than an inexpensive yet feature-rich plug-in security camera?

It packed quite a punch. It had more expensive cameras’ core functions like live streaming, motion detection with recording, two-way audio, and infrared night vision. It also gave us that 1080p HD video quality that they are looking for in security cameras, and it integrated nicely with the Amazon Echo Show. As for its design, users liked the Blink Mini’s minimalist look. Its compact design made it discreet, perfect for our little apartment. The guests mostly missed the camera even when it was staring right at them, so it would be the same for burglars.

The biggest concern was that the Blink Mini no longer has access to that free cloud storage we’ve come to love about Blink unless you already had a Blink account before April 15, 2020. Fortunately, users have a Blink account, but cloud storage will cost $3 per month for those who don’t. Another option is to shell out $35 for the Sync Module 2 coming out later this year, which will provide local storage for the Blink Mini. Either way, the camera’s video storage isn’t free.

Despite its affordable price and small design, Blink managed to jam-pack the Blink Mini with many valuable features.

Minimalist Design: Right out of the box, the first thing that stood out for us about the Blink Mini was its minimalist and compact design. It’s shaped like a small cube with smooth edges, and its black faceplate makes it less conspicuous. It’s also the first Blink camera to come with a stand, which allows for flexible placement. We both set it on a shelf and mounted it on a wall, and it worked great both ways. The ball-and-socket joint stand twisted and turned freely, which proved helpful as people were finding that ideal viewing angle. And when they wanted to make the Blink Mini even more compact, they detached it from its stand.

1080p Video Quality: It offered a slightly broader view (we usually go for 120 degrees or higher), and they managed to position the camera so that there weren’t any significant blind spots. The key was to place the camera high up and in a corner. They think adding a second camera is the best solution for a vast room.

Infrared Night Vision: Whenever it got too dark, the Blink Mini automatically turned on its infrared LED lights, allowing the camera to see in total darkness. The night vision turned nighttime videos into black-and-white, but the level of detail remained almost the same as daytime videos. The intensity of the infrared light was adjustable to low, medium, and high. The low setting worked best because people have a small living room and objects close to the camera produced too much glare in the medium and high settings.

Live Streaming: Live streaming is a staple feature of most security cameras, including the Blink Mini. It was mostly streamed to smartphone via the Blink Home Monitor app to check on the apartment while away, but they also watched on Echo Show and smart TV. And because the Blink Mini was plugged in, they didn’t have to worry about draining the battery.

Two-Way Audio: The Blink Mini also provided us with clear two-way audio while streaming. We could hear the camera’s surroundings clearly, and the audio quality was better than regular phone calls when the Wi-Fi signal was strong. And if you wanted to speak to whoever was near the camera, you can hold the two-way talk button on the phone’s screen, much like a walkie-talkie. Although we used the two-way audio feature mainly to communicate with family, and use it to yell at an intruder if there ever was one.

Motion Alerts: The primary security feature of the Blink Mini was motion detection. It alerted of movements and, at the same time, recorded the events so that we could play them back afterward. The notifications went straight to our smartphones through the Blink Home Monitor mobile app. Our only gripe was that the phones needed to be online to receive alerts. It wasn’t a massive issue for us as we’re always connected either to Wi-Fi or cellular data, but we thought you should know.

Activity Zones: Having kids over is one thing, but if you live with pets, we’d like to note that the Blink Mini isn’t precisely pet-immune. Unfortunately, it was learned the hard way when the phones started blowing up with alerts while pet-sitting Buddy, a 45-pound Poodle. Fortunately, they found ways to avoid excessive false alarms without compromising our home security. First, the sensor’s sensitivity was reduced. After that, the camera still detected Buddy, but not as often as before.

Arming & Disarming: The Blink Mini uses the same app as the other Blink cameras, so we were able to arm and disarm it along with our other Blink cameras. Manually, it controlled the Blink Mini using the arm and disarm button on the app’s home screen. But we’re somewhat forgetful, so whenever we had a solid schedule, we opted to make the process automatic with the help of programs. In addition, the app lets us set different times and days for arming and disarming the camera.

Third-Party Integrations: Blink Mini easily integrates with third-party innovative home products. First on the list is Alexa, which wasn’t surprising because Amazon owns Blink. We loved the Alexa integration as it allowed us to do several things with voice commands, such as:

  • Arm/disarm the Blink Mini
  • Show a live feed or the latest motion event on our Echo Show
  • State the arm/disarm status of the camera
  • Check arm/disarm schedule
  • Retrieve details about unread motion events

Blink also worked with IFTTT, an automation engine driven by “if this, then that” recipes called Applets. The Applets activate a custom action whenever the defined trigger occurs. For instance, one Applet we used turned on our living room lights whenever the camera detected motion. We know that installing motion-activated lights, even makeshift ones made with the help of IFTTT, are effective burglar deterrents. Even the authorities recommend using motion-activated lights.

Blink somewhat worked with Ring’s Neighbors feature. Ring, another Amazon-owned security camera company, launched Neighbors as a virtual neighborhood watch.4 It sent us real-time, local alerts from other Ring and Blink users in our neighborhood, local law enforcement, and the Ring news team. Although we live in a generally safe community, we appreciated getting safety-related reminders.