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Alexa Guard is coming soon for all Echo owners in the US

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This free feature turns your smart speaker into a useful security device

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Amazon’s Alexa Guard feature is now rolling out in the US, following an invite-only preview that lasted a few months. This free update lets your Echo speaker listen for signs of danger in your home while you’re away. Sounds like glass breaking (caused by a burglar or a moody cat) or a smoke alarm going off will trigger Alexa to send out Smart Alerts consisting of audio clips. If your Echo has a built-in camera, it will show a direct video feed into your home.

In addition to listening, Alexa Guard can also mimic your daily smart light usage, switching the lights on and off to make it seem like you’re home. Amazon notes that Alexa Guard isn’t meant to be a replacement for an alarm system, and it isn’t able to alert authorities. Even so, these baseline capabilities give Echo speakers and displays a slight edge over what the Google Home and Apple HomePod can do out of the box.

After the app update arrives on your phone, you can enable the feature by opening the Alexa app. Once you’re there, head to settings, tap “Guard,” then follow along with the setup process. Keep in mind that you’ll need to say “Alexa, I’m leaving” each time you want to activate Guard mode.

If your home is already set up with a smart home security system (say, Ring), Alexa Guard may seem trivial. However, it’s a worthwhile addition that won’t cost you anything extra to activate. As my colleague Sean Hollister noted, Ring doesn’t yet make sensors to detect window breaks, so until it does (if it does), this feature should offer a little additional peace of mind.

Speaking of Ring, Amazon usually isn’t great about incorporating cross-functionality between its home security products, but Alexa Guard can be set up to arm your Ring security system when you tell Alexa to turn on Guard mode.