The Ring changes weren't announced as such but rather hidden on an updated support web page. But they look set to affect a couple of bits of kit including the popular Ring video doorbells and cameras.
Starting with those, The Verge notes that owners of the Ring video doorbells and cameras will no longer have access to Home and Away Modes via the Ring app. At least, not for free. They'll be able to pay for a Ring Protect subscription, which is £3.49/$3.99 per month or £34.99/$39.99 per year.
Modes are a good way to tell your smart home system whether you're at home or away, allowing it to then spin up or shut down cameras as needed. But it'll no longer be offered as a free feature as of 29 March 2023.
Moving on to the Ring Alarm system, new customers who sign up on or after 29 March 2023 will have to pay for a Ring Protect plan if they want to arm and disarm the system using the app. The same Modes feature will also be placed behind the paywall, as will notifications and Alexa voice control.
Thankfully, those who already bought and set up their Ring Alarm system won't have to pay, although it does seem to be only a matter of time before that changes. Companies like Ring are becoming increasingly aware that selling smart home devices to a user once isn't enough to keep the lights on - they need recurring revenue instead. Subscriptions are a reasonable way to do that, but removing features that were available when someone bought the hardware is a bit of a no-no.
Ring is far from the only player in the smart home works, though. Competition is a good thing, although swapping out your entire security system seems unlikely if you already have it installed. Still, new customers can at least make an informed choice now that they know how much Ring Protect will set them back.