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Alexa has a new hidden superpower: transform into a security camera


The Echo Show 10 allows you to pan and zoom when viewing it as a security camera from the Alexa app.


The gentle Alexa has an alter ego – a kind of crime fighter – that lives deep within you Amazon Echo Show‘s device settings, just wait for the call. The setting is called Home Monitoring and turns your smart display into a – you guessed it – security camera.

Okay, so Home Monitoring might not be the stuff of superhero origins stories, but it’s still pretty useful as long as you don’t need a lot of advanced security camera features. But why, you might ask, would anyone want to turn an Alexa device into a security camera when they could just as easily use the Drop-In feature to do the same?

Because Drop-In is really just some kind of video call, which means that the device you are calling is displaying a video from you, too and hey, you may not want that. Instead, you may prefer a more incognito approach, whether you’re controlling people, pets, or something else.

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Plus, if you have the latter Echo Show 10, not only can you view the camera feed, but you can also pan the room from left to right (although not up and down, unfortunately). You can’t do that with Drop-In, right?


If you have an Echo Show 5 in the bedroom, you’ll be happy to know that it has a physical shutter release to block the camera.


Speaking of the new Echo Show 10, it wasn’t actually until the last iteration of Amazon’s flagship smart display that this feature even appeared in the Alexa app. At first only the new Echo Show 10 could get it done, but a recent update seems to have changed all that and now the first gen Echo Show 5 and Echo Show 8 have a Home Monitoring setting.

In other words, this is a hot-off-the-press new feature.

Setting up your Amazon Echo Show smart display to appear as a security camera in the Alexa app is a bit trickier than enabling most of the features – for security reasons, you have to set it up on the device itself, not from the app. That said, it should only take you a few minutes, and it’s totally worth it. Here’s how to do it.


You have to enable Home Monitoring on the device itself, like this Echo Show 10, not from the Alexa app.

Chris Monroe / CNET

Start with the device you want to enable as a security camera

To enable your Echo Show device as a security camera, you need to open the device’s settings – not Device settings in the Alexa app, mind you (although you’ll end up using the app here). First, you’ll want to go to your physical device, the actual Echo Show smart display, swipe down from the top of the screen to access the main menu and tap Settings. (You can also say, “Alexa, go to settings.”) From there, follow these steps:

1. To the right of Home security, Press switch to turn it on.

2. A screen will appear saying “Echo Show can help you monitor your home …” Tap Continue.

3. A screen will appear asking you to verify your account. Crane Continue.

4. Test your Amazon account passwordthen tap Done.

5. A screen will appear with the text “All set”. Crane Done immediately (if you time out this screen, the Home Monitoring setting will not change and you will need to start over from step 1).

There are two more settings on the device that you can adjust from here, which we’ll cover next.


Even the previous generation Echo Show 8 has the settings to become a security camera.


Why you might want a video delay or audio warning

Before you completely close the settings menu, you have two more options to consider, both of which are about privacy.

Turn on the first switch, labeled Video delay, the first few seconds of the video will fade, just like a Drop-In call. This gives everyone on the other side of the camera the ability to react to being suddenly viewed. How would they know they were in front of the camera all of a sudden, you ask?

They know if you decide to turn on the other switch on this screen, the one labeled Audio warning. When this setting is on, the device will play a sound when the camera starts streaming, so everyone on the other end knows the camera feed is going live.

echo-show-5-kids music

With Home Monitoring, you can monitor kids with an Echo Show 5 nearby without using Alexa’s two-way calling feature, also known as Drop-In.


If you live alone, these settings probably won’t help you much. But if you’re living with others – be it family or friends – it’s a pretty decent courtesy to warn them when they’re being checked, so you may want to turn them both on.

How to check your new ‘security cameras’

Now for the fun part – checking your cameras. Keep in mind that if you’re doing this from the same room as the camera you’re logging into, you’ll want to mute your phone or tablet to avoid audio feedback. Here are the steps:

1. Open the Alexa app and tap Appliances in the bottom menu.

2. Scroll horizontally through the top menu and tap Cameras.

3. Tap the Echo Show device whose camera you want to view.

Then the app will open the camera feed. If you’re using the latest Echo Show 10, you can swipe left or right to pan the camera and double-tap or pinch to zoom in and out.

Echo Show 5 Wyze

If you need more advanced features, such as the ability to record video or receive motion alerts, you should opt for a full-featured security camera like Wyze’s.


Pro type: Rotate your phone or tablet to landscape position for the largest and best view of your device’s camera. In landscape mode, you can tap the screen once to show the speaker and microphone controls or to exit the camera feed.

Why would you still want a bona fide security camera?

Okay, so there are a few things you do can not do with your Amazon Echo Show screen that you really should be able to do with a device labeled as a security camera. Most importantly, you cannot record video even while streaming (unless you may be recording the screen of your mobile device). That alone reduces the usefulness of this feature by about half.

Nor is there a quick and easy way to set up motion alerts, an integral feature of any security camera. You can probably come up with a solution, such as creating a routine to notify you if a camera detects a person, but those kinds of settings should be central to any security camera interface.


Home Monitoring is great if you just want to stop by from time to time.


Ultimately, Alexa’s Home Monitoring feature doesn’t replace an entire security camera, so if you want motion alerts, video recording, or just about any functionality other than watching a live stream, you’ll probably want a special security camera.

If all you have to do is walk in your pets, watch your child or otherwise just stop by every now and then to check things up, keep your money in your wallet and the device you already have use quite effectively.

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