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Gadgets & Tech

Google and ADT have a new security system with lots of subscription fees

Enlarge / Google and ADT’s security package: Google screens and cameras and ADT’s software, sensors, and hub.


Google’s plans for a security system are starting to take shape. Google invested $450 million in ADT in 2020, buying a 6.6 percent stake in the security monitoring company. Two months later Google killed its in-house security system, the Nest Secure, which had a monitoring deal with ADT rival Brinks. The two companies promised to build “the next generation of smart home security solutions,” and that’s apparently here now as the “ADT Self Setup smart home security system.”

Since the Nest Secure is dead, the brains of the system is the ADT Smart Home Hub. This is a 4.1×4.1×5.9-inch box with a keypad on top and a few other buttons for arming and disarming the security system. It’s a sizable unit that’s basically the size of a smart speaker, thanks to needing to fit an integrated 24-hour battery backup and a speaker grille on the front for the alarm siren, which ADT says hits 85 dB at 10 feet. Instead of a more common smart home protocol like Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Zigbee, Google’s Thread, or Matter, ADT’s devices run over “DECT/ULE,” an old-school wireless home security standard. I don’t think that acronym means anything anymore, but officially it stands for “Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications/Ultra Low Energy” (it has roots in cordless phone technology). The hub still has Z-Wave, but that’s only for automation of third-party products. It also has Bluetooth for setup, and assuming this is the same hub used for ADT’s old “Blue” security system, it connects to the Internet over Wi-Fi with a cellular backup.

ADT also has various security widgets you can place around the house. It’s not very handy to have the control keypad on top of the hub, away from the door, so there’s also a remote keypad that presumably you can wall mount next to the door and use as you come and go. ADT is also handling the door and window sensors, motion sensors, flood and temperature sensors, a car-style key fob, and surprisingly, the smoke detector. Nest famously has some extremely expensive smoke detectors, but ADT’s press release calls out every compatible Google product by name, and the Nest Protect smoke detector is not listed.

ADT is also bringing the ADT+ app. It’s kind of incredible that one of the world’s largest software companies is not handling the software for this, but the ADT app will connect everything together, allowing you to control the security system, get notification alerts, and see camera feeds, all from one place.

As for the Google bits, any Nest Hub smart display can be a primary interface for the system, allowing users to control the security system by voice and touch, along with all the usual Google smart display things. The Google Nest Mini speaker is also available for voice control, which is listed as a supported speaker in the blog post and press release, but neither post makes mention of the bigger Nest Audio speaker as a supported device. I can’t imagine that’s right—every Google Assistant endpoint is probably available for voice control.

Google is also supplying all the cameras, with the Nest Doorbell and indoor and outdoor Nest cams, and they’ll even show up in the ADT+ app. A Nest Thermostat is a supported device, too, which just means you can control it from the ADT app. The setup also recommends a Google Nest Wi-Fi router, though anything will work.

Now let’s talk pricing. This is ADT’s “DIY” system, because it will be up to you to piece together a system that fits your house, as opposed to having an ADT consultant come in and do professional design and installation. The ADT hub is $179.99, a keypad is $89.99, each door/window sensor is $14.99, motion sensors are $24.99, a smoke detector is $39.99, and a flood/temperature sensor is $34.99. There are also “Starter” and “Premium” combo packages that bundle the hub, a few sensors, a Google doorbell, and—only in the “Premium” package—a Nest Hub, but these don’t save any money over just buying things piecemeal. ADT is offering $100 off the hub right now.

Of course, ADT’s bread and butter is the 24/7 professional monitoring subscription, where a person at a call center will call 911 on your behalf if the security system detects an intruder. This is $24.99 a month if you only have ADT equipment, or $34.99 a month if you want monitoring of your Z-Wave gear, too. Keep in mind Google’s Nest cameras have a monthly subscription, too, and you’re expected to get both the “Nest Aware” and ADT subscriptions for the full experience. Nest cameras only save three hours of event history without a subscription. That recording feature is specifically “event history”—the camera detecting that something interesting happened—not 24/7 video recording. For $6 a month, “Nest Aware” will get 30 days of event video history (still not 24/7 video recording), while the $9 “Nest Aware Plus” subscription will get you 60 days of event history and has finally added 10 days of 24/7 video recording.

ADT says if you subscribe to Nest Aware and ADT Monitoring, you’ll also get a “video verification” feature. This means the ADT monitoring staff will get to look at your camera feeds during an alarm trigger, which will presumably help them make a decision about calling 911. Don’t call 911 if the cat triggers a motion sensor, do call if it’s a guy with a crowbar and a ski mask.

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