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Amazon Alexa: The best skill for keeping your home safe is also free

Amazon Echo (4th-gen)
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The idea of having cameras in my house has always creeped me out. So what if there was a way to promise peace of mind, without needing one of the best home security cameras?

A few years ago Amazon introduced Alexa Guard, one of the best Alexa skills I’ve grown to rely on in my current lifestyle. As someone who’s away often and has an Echo speaker or six, the ability to turn my camera-less devices into danger detectors is a game-changer.

Alexa Guard turns most of the best Alexa speakers into security devices, listening for signs of trouble such as glass breaking or your smoke alarm going off. Your Alexa app will notify you when it hears anything suspicious, letting you take action however you see fit. It even gives you the option to drop-in on your speaker, or check out the scene if you have a smart display like the Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) or Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen).

Let me get this out of the way — I haven’t needed Alexa Guard’s services in the last year-or-so I’ve been using the feature. I also don’t pay for Alexa Guard Plus, a subscription tier that will contact authorities for you when certain sounds are heard. Alexa Guard Plus can play fake barking dog and home activity sounds to make it seem like you're inside, too. At $50 per year, it's the cheapest professional monitoring service around. 

But with an Amazon Echo Dot with Clock and Amazon Echo (4th Gen) on standby for concerning sounds, I feel a lot better leaving my house. This is especially pertinent, now that I’m doing more things away now thanks to summertime activities like paddleboarding with my Apple Watch, or meeting up with friends I haven’t seen in a while. 

Alexa Guard isn't a replacement for a full home security system, mainly because while it can call my contacts, it can't call 911 for me. But if you have a third-party system in place, such as one from Ring or ADT, Alexa can forward alerts to them. Plus, it can automatically arm or disarm your system when you toggle Guard Mode on and off. Yes, even with the free version of the skill.

Alexa Guard — how it works

In our guide on how to use Alexa, we've detailed how to set up and enable Alexa Guard. Here's the short version:

Open your Alexa app on your smartphone and click on the devices tab on the bottom toolbar. Beneath your device icons you'll see a button called Guard. Click on it for a walkthrough and to explore settings. 

When you get a new Amazon speaker these days, the option to enable Alexa Guard is often included in the set-up process. So keep an eye out next time you get an Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen).

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is a senior writer at Tom’s Guide covering wearables, TVs and everything smart-home related. When she’s not in cyborg mode, you can find her on an exercise bike or channeling her inner celebrity chef. She and her robot army will rule the world one day, but until then, reach her at kate.kozuch@futurenet.com.