Google Nest reduces camera quality and bandwidth to ease Internet strain

The Internet has become the backbone of many critical services and activities during this pandemic but, unfortunately, much of our Internet infrastructure and technologies were not prepared for this situation. The Internet groans under the sudden weight of users, forcing governments and ISPs to ask services to implement measures that will lessen their bandwidth usage. The latest to adopt that is Google's Nest home security system and it's doing it in a slightly different way.

Many of the companies that have throttled their services have done so by directly lowering the quality of the content they serve or reducing the bandwidth users can get access to. YouTube and Netflix, for example, have reduced the quality of videos they're delivering down to SD or HD resolutions. Sony's PlayStation Network, on the other hand, is throttling download speeds for games.

In an email sent to owners of its security cameras, Nest reveals that it is, instead, changing the settings on its products. Quality and bandwidth configurations on Nest cameras will be reset to their default values, which is often a lower setting than what many would have preferred.

This strategy has a few implications, apart from the fact that Nest is remotely changing camera settings without explicitly confirming with users beyond an email notification. It also means that the quality of Nest's Internet service itself isn't being throttled, only that the settings on the cameras are being changed back to their factory defaults.

More importantly, this also means that users can crank up the settings again after the fact, which would make the reduction of quality and bandwidth pointless. Then again, considering these cameras are used for security purposes, some homeowners might be uneasy with "normal" quality video feeds and recordings.