What is going on with the "Free" Cam Plus Lite

Can someone please explain to me what the hell is going on with Cam Plus Lite?

I have three cameras, two I subscribe to CamPlus because I want the extended recordings.

But one camera I am OK with the 12 second recordings and notifications. So, I was able to leave it on the “free” plan for the last year or so.

Then these emails start talking about a new “Cam Plus lite” and how my camera will be automatically switched over to it, but yet another email says I have to “opt-in”.

So, I went into the “account” section of the app and enabled “Cam Plus Lite (PD legacy)” in the app for this “other” camera.

But then when I go to the services.wyze.com it lists two “services”:

Cam Plus - You have 2 camera(s) active on annual subscriptions

Cam Plus Lite - Legacy cloud video storage and Person Detection for all eligible cameras.

And when I “edit” the “cam plus lite” service, it has a “cancel subscription” link and says “Based on the number of cams you own, we’ve pre-selected $2.48 to help us cover the cost”

WTF!!! Why does it look like I will be charged a $2.48 monthly fee for this other camera?

How do I get the “free” plan for my other camera so I will get the 12-second recordings in the camera’s build-in memory?

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@MrEngineer

Many have complained about the confusing emails. In your situation since you have a cam on Cam Plus, your cam that does not have it will be automatically switched over. Once that process happens you will only need to apply it in the app. If you do go to the website and opt-in it will present a recommended amount based on cams you have but you can change the amount and put zero.

The 12-second videos have never been in the camera’s built in memory, the 12 second videos reside on the cloud. The only videos that are local are the ones located on the SD card which are not viewed under the ‘events’ tab but under the ‘view playback’ button under live view of the cam.

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You need to change the amount per @WyzeJasonJ so that you can switch it to $0.

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OK, so do I definately need to “subscribe” to the “Cam Plus Lite” for $0?

I ask because I was able to “cancel subsciption” that was listed in my account, so now I only see my two cam plus subscriptions. And when I go into the app, it allows me to enabled Cam Plus Lite for my third camera.

So, do I even need to “subscribe” to cam plus lite from the website?

If you want to be sure it is set up on Cam Plus Lite you can subscribe on the website and just change the amount to zero

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Well OK then. The short videos are ALWAYS in the cloud? That has NEVER been apparent to us. We own 8 Wyze devices now (7 cams, bought SD cards for all of them). Apparently based on your comment, you all have it in your user model that events => videos are NOT the same as playbacks – where you must know the time or you can’t find it? This is VERY CONFUSING.

Speaking as a retired software engineer with a lot of UI/ergonomics training and experience, I’ve been mostly pleased with Wyze UIs, but not entirely, there ARE disconnects, and this is definitely one of them! A biggie.

In the beginning we decided we do NOT want anything uploaded to the cloud, period. That’s why we rejected CamPlus and bought SD cards. You never gave us a choice to skip the free CamPlus trial, so we knew DURING that time to expect no privacy. One friend who bought a cam, based on our recommendation, saw this default and TURNED OFF THE CAMERA until the free trial period was over.

Now apparently you’re saying if we want event notifications (yes), even we are happy with short videos (yes), they’ve ALWAYS secretly been uploaded, AND we will LOSE THEM unless we agree to CamPlusLite? Crap. You know, we’re willing to pay you all say $2/month just to help keep you alive, but we do NOT want event videos uploaded! Just local! Like I saw when I moved an SD card to my PC and examined the contents.

Can you all do anything for THIS use model?

This has never been a secret and Wyze has plainly disclosed it in all the documentation. SD Cards are an adjunct to and not a replacement of cloud storage. There are multiple threads/requests for a non-cloud solution.

I agree the distinction could be much clearer. Some people hit the Events tab and never check View Playback for SD recordings. Some people do the opposite. I appreciate that the cameras and service offer both though.

I must say I’m becoming less impressed with Wyze in general monetizing on capabilities that we once had for free. I get that it’s 2022 and all companies are going to subscription service models. But I’m done with the greed. I have old D-link cameras that are more capable and totally on premise managed. I thought wyze was a different company offering a decent product and a decent price. Guess the price of entry is just the beginning of the gouge. Bye Wyze, hello to my old D-link cams.

Mark

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I totally understand your point of view.

But please consider this…

For pretty much ANY IoT device to function, it requires a cloud server. Cloud servers are not free - someone has to pay for their continuous use. So, it’s pretty much impossible to offer “free” service if you are not the size of google.

Case in point, there was a company that sold a product called “Leeo”. It was a small round device that plugged into a wall outlet - right on the wall. It had these functions:

  • It acted like a night light that would turn on automatically at night in any color you specified
  • It had Temperature and Humidity sensors that you could set alerts for
  • It had a microphone that listened for smoke and Co alarms and would alert you

And best of all, it was free for life - no subscription required! Well, “life” turned out to be only 5 years because the company went out of business because it could not afford to keep paying for the cloud servers because the initial profit they made when they sold a device, was eventually eaten up by the ongoing expense to keep the cloud servers running. Thus, no-subscription business models are not sustainable when it comes to IoT products. So, now I have three very nice looking paper weights.

So, in summary, it may be best to start realizing that any IoT device will require a subscription if you want the company to stay in business and for your product to keep working - because the device requires continuous use of cloud servers to work, and these servers are a continuous expense to the company that make the device.

Well, and anyone with a quarter of a brain knew it was a mistake to sell $20 cameras with perpetual cloud recording when Wyze started doing it. But they were smugly confident and growing fast until they hired a CFO who could count. (This is what they admit literally happened.)

I bought in to this “too good to be true” deal and it has been incredibly cost effective. A steal.

They say they are working on the glitches and I believe them.

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I also do want to clarify something…

Cloud “storage” is different from cloud “service”.

So even if you setup the cameras to save to your own cloud “storage”, someone still needs to pay for the cloud “service” that allows your app to connect to your camera from outside your house.

A cloud “service” is needed to connect the app to your camera because your cameras are behind the firewall in your router who’s main job is to PREVENT incoming connections into your house. So to get around this security, the cameras connect to a cloud service, waiting for your app to request a connection to the camera. The camera’s can’t connect directly to the app on your phone because your phone is not always connected to the internet and when it does connect, it’s IP address is always different, so the camera is unable to connect directly to your phone and that is why a cloud “service” is needed to connect the app with the camera. And this cloud “service” costs money.

Perhaps if cloud services are expensive to maintain without forcing service contracts, the business model is flawed? It would be would be rather refreshing if Wyze were to offer self service, on premise options without monthly contract? It’s a crying shame that Wyze chooses incrementally cripple the functionality of well designed, reasonably priced hardware through offering advertised capabilities then changing the rules and charging for bare basic functionality of a security camera. Shame on you Wyze!
Or was this the marketing plans of Wyze executive all along? Guess I was suckered.

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The ONLY reason why a cloud service is needed, is to allow an app running on your phone to connect to an IoT device inside your home when you are outside of your home. Cloud servers can also do other things, like save the video of a motion event.

Cloud services are not very expensive, but there is a cost, and it’s an ongoing cost that someone has to pay for.

Even big companies that could easily absorb the cost for their cloud servers like Google’s “Nest” and Amazon’s “Ring” - still charge their users a monthly fee.

So, you just need to accept that there will typically be a fee for any IoT device you use - just like you need to pay a monthly fee for your cell phone to keep working.

“Perhaps if cloud services are expensive to maintain without forcing service contracts, the business model is flawed?” - YES, companies who sell IoT devices without a monthly cost, is a business model that will fail, Thats why Wyze realized this and now needs to charge a small monthly fee.

“It would be would be rather refreshing if Wyze were to offer self service, on premise options without monthly contract?” - A cloud service is needed for IoT devices, and every company has a different cloud system, so it is currently not possible to provide your own “self-service” cloud service. Maybe the industry will eventually agree on a common standard for cloud services, so that you could then choose a different cloud service vendor for your IoT products.

“It’s a crying shame that Wyze chooses incrementally cripple the functionality of well designed, reasonably priced hardware through offering advertised capabilities then changing the rules and charging for bare basic functionality of a security camera. Shame on you Wyze!” - Would you rather wyze go out of business instead of trying to stay in business by charging a small fee to pay for their cloud servers?

Let’s not forget that (a) the basic P2P function of connecting to your camera remains free regardless of plan or lack of plan and (b) if you dodge the guilt wall the Lite service can be free of charge. There is still no requirement for a paid subscription or monthly contract to use Wyze cameras.

Preface: Please note that I understand that Wyze never promised home-based service. They have not reneged on any commitment, promise, or agreement that I am aware of. They are not now, nor have they ever been, obligated to provide the software necessary to ‘self-serve’. This is a Wish-list item that (apparently) many people have, and my comment is in regard to that.

I will agree that a cloud service is needed, but that service can run on one of my servers just as easily as it runs on theirs. And since my servers are “in the cloud” too, the statement “not possible to provide your own ‘self-service’ cloud service” is simply not accurate, at least not for reasons of access and authentication. I already run a number of servers - Email, Web, SQL, Git, etc., all authenticate, and most I can access from anywhere in the world.

Further, I want to make sure we do not confuse “not possible” with “impossible”. It is only “not possible” at the moment because Wyze CHOSE to not spend the resources required to develop the necessary software (et al) to accomplish “self-hosting”. (Proponents of the alternate firmware see last paragraph).

I think people are already forgetting that just some years ago ‘self-service’ cameras were not uncommon - it was those with a ‘cloud-based-service’ that were the odd-balls. How did we get hood-winked into believing we were somehow no longer capable, and we required their servers and services to accomplish anything that involves the IoT!?!? That is the opposite of decentralization, and creates a single-point-of-failure. That is exactly like putting all your eggs in one basket (and it’s not your basket).

I’ve heard arguments about security, and how it is easier to compromise (hack into) a home or small-office network and/or server than it is a corporate-level one. That’s probably true more often than not, but then I’m not as big a target as they are (and it’s not like I run without protection). How many examples have we seen in recent times that this “big tech” server or that had been hacked, and the user info had become compromised. (Twitter, Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn, Experian, Equifax, Quora, GiveSendGo, I can go on…), TOO many, that’s how many. I would guestimate that it is THOUSANDS of times more likely that someone (with any actual skill) would try to hack them before me. Not only because of the amount of data the hackers might obtain (which is typically the objective of that type of an attack), but also because their PUBLIC SERVERS are INFINITLY easier for the hackers to find. So, are their servers more secure than mine? I think that’s debatable.

I don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth, but I find it hard to believe that m.l.pacmann was asking if giving away free services was a bad business model. Rather, I read that as “expensive cloud-services that require service contracts” was a flawed model. And I would assume that when you said “without a monthly cost”, you meant “without a monthly charge [to the customer]”. If accurate, then I would agree, but only if they were hosting the service that the IoT ‘thing’ consumed, which is the point currently being discussed/debated.

No, I would rather they be up-front about the costs from the start, but we also need to be fair and realistic about it. Everyone know companies use special offers and discounts (one-time, short-term, long-term) to get new customers. And we all know those ‘freebies’ aren’t going to last forever. We all know ‘stuff’ comes at a cost, so for me it isn’t the fact that they are charging for a valuable and useful service, but rather that I have no other option but to use their service.

Lastly - to anyone who is tempted to mention the “alternate firmware” solution - No thank you. If I need to reprogram all of my devices using 3rd-party firmware (voiding my warranty?), and install another Linux server (not just a service? I’m honestly not clear on that part), then I would rather just go buy the hardware/software that does all that by default on the OS of my choice - no reprogramming or Linux server required. (Nothing against Linux mind you, I’m already running two Ubuntu servers, but it’s not exactly my first choice).

Cheers!

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I don’t even get your point. Using RTSP firmware doesn’t require any Linux servers. It talks just as well to BlueIris or VLC or anything else on Windows. The real issue is that from what I’ve heard there is no 3rd party RTSP for the V3 yet.

(And of course roughly 100% of the “Internet of Things” market including both native and 3rd party Wyze firmware uses Linux, BSD, or another Unix variant on the actual devices.)

I stand corrected. The first ‘guide’ I found that implemented that firmware was using a Linux server, and I should have kept looking, but I can be lazy sometimes. Case and point, someone else had previously pointed me at Blueiris, and I failed to follow through - guess it’s time to go get a copy. As for VLC, it’s a great tool, but not really the right one for this job.

I’m still strongly displeased that I need to reprogram my cameras. I know it’s reversible, but still.

Yes, and it’s exactly the right tool for the job. You think I want a copy of Windows running on my IoT? ROFLMAO!
But seriously, I typically do not need to interact with the device at that level, so the fact that it uses some flavor of Unix internally is pretty irrelevant (to me).

The important part (for me) is the software I will be interacting with on a daily basis - the software I will use to view and record the various streams - and I would prefer it run on the OS I am most comfortable with, which brings us full circle back to Blueiris (thank you btw).

I want to clarify one more thing…, the majority of my comments are geared toward the 80%+ of the wyze users who do not know what “RTSP” is or do not know how to setup a port forwarding rule in their router, etc.

That is why I make certain general statements like that all IoT devices need a cloud service, etc.

But, if you are technical, then of course you can do hacks and work-arounds that allow you to do things outside the normal restrictions.

Totally with you…

…until you said that.

It shouldn’t be a ‘hack’ nor a ‘work-around’. That is my point. (Well, one of them anyway).

Rather than a ‘hack’, it would be very nice if there was an ‘official’ way of achieving the goal of self-hosting, you know, like we used to have before the subscription craze. It’s not a crazy ask. It’s how things worked for years and years, and I didn’t need to know the intimate details of the underlying protocols being used by my hardware, the software dealt with that. Case and point - do you know all the IPs and ports currently being used by the Wyze app, hardware, and service? I’d wager not. Nor do you need to know, not if the software has been installed correctly and is functioning properly.

The argument I keep hearing is that “Wyze never promised self-hosting”. I know. I am fully aware. My question is WHY. It is completely doable. The only thing that is required is the willingness to do it, and yes, no small amount of cash - programmers ain’t free - but neither would the software be free.

The fact that the only way to do it today is via a ‘hack’ is probably one of the big reasons that many users are not interested in it. Were there an official software for self-hosting, which integrated with the hardware at the firmware level (just like the Wyze app), this would be a non-issue, and would attract a larger percentage of the user-base. Of course that would reduce the number of users using their service, and hence their monthly income.

Sadly (IMHO), in the end it’s all about the money, not the technology (which I guess answers my question of Why). So I’m not angry at Wyze for not providing a way to self-serve. They are in business to make money after all. (I believe) It really is that simple.

But what drives me bananas (in a negative way) is that people keep pretending this is some difficult task or something. It isn’t. In fact it is easier to write than the software they are using today because it could largely be a SUBSET of the logic they already have (albeit with an obscene amount of changes and additions to remove or obfuscate IP or proprietary internal security-related logic, etc.).

I know it’s not exactly that simple, but it isn’t that far off the mark either. I don’t even need to see the code to know that is true because I know how code (above the grade-school level) is written - as reusable as possible - and this is the PERFECT reuse scenario. I mean really, you don’t think that Microsoft re-writes Office or Windows with every release, do you? There are still parts of Win-XP in Win-10! The latest versions of Office still have pieces from Office-97! Wyze is no different. I know that my 40 years of programming does not make me a know-it-all, but I’m not exactly new to the scene. If at least 50% of the code (or just it’s logic) that they are using isn’t reusable, they need to fire the CIO right now, and probably a few programmers. But that’s just my opinion.

The point is, the software needed to realize an official and seamless self-service is within arms reach, and the only thing stopping it from being a reality is the business decision to not do that. Until that changes (not holding my breath), we are stuck with ‘hacks’. (At least they gave us that much).