[Update: June 27] Should Google add option to disable Nest familiar faces notifications in Home app?

New updates are being added to the bottom of the story…

Original story (from June 13) follows:

IoT has made it possible to automate homes and remotely control things like lights, door locks, thermostats and even monitor activities in and around your house from virtually anywhere using a smartphone app.

Unlike orthodox models, modern-day home security systems tag along features such as motion detection, video footage, and real-time alerts, among other benefits.

With a smart home security system, homeowners can rest assured that they’ll be alerted in the event that a window is left ajar.

Parents will have less to worry about whenever kids are left unsupervised at home thanks to real-time notifications they get about recent activities in and around the home.

Google Nest Cam battery

Even better is that with security cameras, the video footage provides a glimpse into your home and lets you see what’s going on, whether you’re present or away.

With just a smartphone app, you can easily be alerted when kids are back from school, when a package is delivered to your door, if a friend stopped by your front door unannounced or even about your pets’ activities.

There are plenty of companies that offer home automation products and services, and Google is among them thanks to its line of Nest products that include security cameras, video doorbells, sensors, thermostats, and more.

Google Nest products are quite easy to install. But in order to set up, manage and control Nest products, you’ll need to download and install the Google Home app on your smartphone.

Using the app, you can customize your home to your liking, change various settings of your Nest products, delete video history, turn on/off specific functions, among many other things.


One of the Nest camera or doorbell functions that can be enabled or disabled via the Google Home app is familiar face detection.

Part of Nest Aware, familiar face detection is meant to “teach your Google Nest camera to recognize faces of people that you know, and notify you when it detects people it doesn’t recognize.”

No doubt this is a great addition to the smart home security system. After all, it’s a basic security measure to be alerted whenever a stranger shows up at your front door.

However, there’s one issue with the familiar face detection feature that has been a cause of frustration among Google Home app users who have heavily invested in the Nest line of security products.

While it’s possible to turn familiar face detection on and off, it’s impossible to disable notifications for familiar faces and leave them on for unfamiliar faces.


With familiar face detection enabled, you’ll be notified for everyone the camera or doorbell detects in the area they cover.

If it detects a familiar face, the notification will include the name of the person as stipulated in the Home app. For unfamiliar faces, it simply says a “person” has been detected.

While you’d expect that turning off familiar face detection would completely kill off notifications, the Home app still sends an alert that a person (no name) was detected courtesy of the people notifications function.

As noted, the Google Home app has no option to turn off notifications for familiar faces. Thus, you’ll still get notified whenever kids playing or spouse working in the backyard passes by the active zones.

No one wants to receive 20+ alerts just because their kids are playing in the garden. I’m not interested in notifications about my wife going through the Nest Cam’s field of view, but I’d like to be notified if a stranger is there.

Google Nest Hello

If anything, the only alerts that should be useful are those about unfamiliar faces, but for whatever reason, there’s no way to customize this setting.

This is a feature that Google needs to consider adding to the Home app. In fact, for what seems so basic, it’s quite surprising that Google hasn’t added this setting to the Home app despite long-standing requests from users.

It remains unclear why Google isn’t implementing a much-requested feature. It could be a legal issue like the case of Illinois where the feature is not available. Or just Google’s lack of interest.

But seeing how useful the setting can be for Nest users, I hope Google actually considers implementing it in future, sooner rather than later. Or at least give a clear explanation as to why the option is missing from the Home app.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments section below. Also, be sure to vote on the Twitter poll below, with the results to be announced after a week.

Update 1 (June 20)

The poll results are out. And as expected, a majority (over 83%) are in favor of adding a toggle to turn off notifications for familiar faces, with the rest deeming it an unnecessary venture.

Update 2 (June 27)

05:19 pm (IST): Responding to a query about adding the option to disable familiar face notifications, a community specialist has confirmed that they have escalated this request to the Nest team.

Thank you so much for bringing this up to my attention! I like that idea, and I could see how it could be helpful. I will go ahead and submit this feedback forward for you. Thank you for all of your patience. (Source)

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Hillary Keverenge

Review Editor. Besides phones, I also enjoy the farm, music, football, and, of course, food.