Canary is an all-in-one home security device that’ll watch your home and make sure everything is OK. It’s packed with features like motion detection and video recording, temperature and air-quality sensors, and remote access to control it, see recorded videos, and watch live.
After using Canary for several weeks, I’m ready to write a review about my experience with it thus far. It’s still a relatively new device and has its quirks and issues, but it’s promising.
To set up and use Canary, you need a compatible device. Canary is compatible with both iOS and Android—it supports:
- iPhone 4S or later running iOS 7 or 8
- Android devices running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or later
Setting up Canary was a piece of cake. Once you’ve downloaded the Canary app from the App Store or Google Play Store and set up an account, follow the on-screen instructions. The app and process is extremely well designed and simple.
Canary packs a lot of features into its tiny body—it stands 6” high and 3” wide—and is available in 3 colors: black, white, and silver. It’s powered by a micro-USB power adapter and connects to your network via ethernet or wireless.
Camera and Motion Detection
It has a 1080p HD camera equipped with a 147° wide-angle lens so it can see and record a large area of your home and night vision so it can see in the dark. The wide-angle lens allows it to view multiple rooms when positioned at certain spots of your home.
Motion detection allows Canary to record activity when it detects motion when motion-activated recording is enabled, and a built-in microphone also records sound. Both the video and audio are stored in Canary’s cloud storage for up to 90 days (based on your subscription plan). When it detects motion, you’ll get a push notification on your device.
Canary has an intuitive indicator light at the bottom, which glows yellow when it’s functioning properly and red when there’s an issue, such as connectivity.
Canary can be put into 3 modes: Armed, Disarmed, and Privacy.
- Armed - Motion-activated recording with mobile notifications.
- Disarmed - Motion-activated recording without mobile notifications.
- Privacy - Canary and microphone are completely off.
Canary auto arms when you leave and disarms when you get home—it intelligently uses your phone’s GPS.
When Canary is in Armed or Disarmed mode, you can use the app to watch and listen to what’s going on. I notice about a 5–7-second delay, but the quality of the video is very good. Zoom in/out of the video (2x and 3x) by double-tapping and pan by swiping. Record on-demand by clicking “Record” within Watch Live.
The activity list keeps track of Canary’s actions, such as whether it was armed or unarmed or it recorded activity, which is accessible via the app.
Watch clips from Canary’s archive of motion-activated recordings. To save a clip, simply bookmark it, then find it in Saved Events. Past recordings and bookmarked clips are limited to your subscription plan.
Canary has built-in sensors that monitor the air quality, temperature, and humidity of your home. HomeHealth is designed to notify you if something is unusual at home, such as a fire, which would cause a sudden spike in temperature and drop in humidity.
It gives a snapshot of each on the home screen, and clicking into it opens up graphs which show the progression/change of each within a 12-hour period. Tap and swipe a graph to get the status of a specific time.
The air-quality information is very basic and doesn’t provide much information other than that the air quality is normal, abnormal, or very abnormal.
Member and Device management
Add other members to give Canary access to for features such as managing Canary from the app or auto arming/disarming by location.
Add multiple Canary devices in the same location so they can work together and house all of its data in one account—you can have up to 4 Canary devices in one location.
Siren and Accelerometer
Canary comes equipped with a loud speaker for a siren, which you can activate from within the app to warn off any intruders or notify those around.
A built-in accelerometer is designed to warn you when it detects unusual physical activity, like falling off of a table.
Usage and Performance
Canary lives up to a lot of its features and promises. Its auto-unarm feature makes it convenient to come home and have it auto unarm; push notifications are quick and prompt; its high-quality camera produces great video, which wasn’t the case for the previous security camera I owned; the app is well designed.
I’ve also experienced issues with it. Canary occasionally randomly goes offline even though my Internet is up or it fails to arm or disarm when I try to change its mode—if you’re like me, I start to panic and start dreaming up the worst (like someone breaking into my house because Canary went offline). I find it uneasy that Canary fails to let me know when it goes offline, so you have no clue until you come home or check. I’d like to see Canary inform you when it goes offline via a push notification, SMS/text message or email. I think it’d also be nice in general to have the option to receive SMS/text/email notifications. In addition, it most recently fails to auto disarm when I come home so I have to manually disarm it.
Canary doesn’t have a web app (yet) so you need your phone with you, but it needs one.
Videos are on Canary’s servers, but there’s no way for you to download them locally. It’d be nice to be able to download and store them locally so I can have a personal archive of videos without complete dependency on Canary.
I dislike how the videos are organized—there’s no way to quickly jump to a time or date. If Canary is in Unarmed mode it still records motion activity throughout the day; therefore, you have to endlessly scroll to get to the desired video. It’d be nice to see a better, more intuitive way to browse or filter through past videos.
Overall I’m extremely happy with Canary and its features. I don’t think Canary replaces a fully-featured, robust home-security system, but they are expensive and near impossible for the average consumer to afford. Canary provides enough security features at a low cost to feel at ease when you leave your home, which is better than having no security system at all.
I fully expect Canary’s features and reliability to improve over time, and look forward to its changes.
Update: Canary has informed me that they’re working on all of the issues I’ve experienced, which is good news indeed—at least from a distance.
An account comes with Canary’s basic, free plan, but if you’d like longer or more cloud video storage, the following are the different subscription plans:
|Plans||Storage||Saved clips||Video recording||Call center monitoring|
|Free||12 hrs||5||Armed only||NO|
|$9/mo||7 days||50||Armed & disarmed||YES|
|$19/mo||30 days||100||Armed & disarmed||YES|
|$39/mo||90 days||250||Armed & disarmed||YES|
Find more information about the Canary All-in-One Home Security System at Canary.is.