Security camera notifications are laggy, but Blink has a solution

A head-on shot of the Blink Outdoor camera

Roger Fingas / Android Authority

Recently, I had the opportunity to review the Blink Outdoor, one of Amazon’s many smart security cameras. Without spoiling the rest of my thoughts, a standout feature was the “early notification” option found in the Blink app. This triggers alerts the instant motion is detected, at least within your sensitivity settings. The technology is so quick that if you’ve got a steady connection and you’re already looking at your phone, you can often catch seconds-long events while they’re still in progress.

This contrasts with most security cameras — whether from Ring, Nest, or others — which often take a few seconds to deliver a notification, much less open a livestream. The gap may be small, but it can mean all the difference in situations where it’s important to act fast, such as scaring away a thief or catching an accident before it happens. Security cameras are most valuable when they deter problems rather than just provide a record of them.

The gap may be small, but it can mean all the difference in situations where it’s important to act fast.

Hair-trigger notifications are not only rarer than they should be, but strangely undersold by Amazon/Blink. There’s no mention of early notifications in the company’s marketing, and even within the app, the option is labeled “beta.” How is this technology not the norm in smart security?

The issues holding notification speed back

Google Nest Cam Review 2021 Front

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Admittedly, there’s at least one obvious risk with faster notifications: battery drain. Frequent, rapid-fire alerts can burn through the batteries many cameras rely on. In a worst-case scenario, some people might gripe about having to recharge or replace their batteries every few months, leading to bad reviews, and/or customers drifting away to different camera brands. As much as people want speed, they sometimes crave convenience more.

The Blink Outdoor is somewhat “cheating” in that while the camera itself uses two AA batteries, it broadcasts to a hub plugged into an indoor AC outlet — many cameras use built-in Wi-Fi or 4G to communicate to the cloud, both of which are inherently more power-hungry. Still, if those AA…