Earlier than the top of 2020, Amazon will launch a new feature called Sidewalk that creates small, public internet networks powered by Echo smart speakers and Ring home security products in your neighborhood.
Amazon notes this isn’t a replacement for your normal home wifi network and will only support certain low-powered internet features over Bluetooth. That could come in handy if you want to place a Ring security device on your property but your home wifi network doesn’t reach far enough. Sidewalk also includes a “Community Finding” feature that will make location-monitoring devices like pet trackers and Tile tags more effective and easier to find if lost.
In order to use these features, Sidewalk requires your neighbors to have Amazon Sidewalk-enabled products (which Amazon calls “Bridges) that your stuff can connect to (and vice versa). However, Amazon is taking a proactive approach and enabling Sidewalk by default for all applicable devices.
Yes, you read that right: Sidewalk will be an opt-out feature for all applicable Amazon devices when it launches in the coming days. New Alexa accounts and devices will also be automatically enrolled going forward. And odds are good that most people purchasing any Amazon gear will have no idea what Sidewalk is, nor stumble across it in their device’s options and disable it.
Is Amazon Sidewalk safe?
All Sidewalk networks are triple-encrypted, and Amazon makes use of a number of further safety features to obscure every person’s id and knowledge from one another. You gained’t know who’s piggybacking off your community, nor the exact areas for related gadgets even when utilizing the “Neighborhood Discovering” function (it solely offers the overall whereabouts of the system you’re trying to find).
The corporate additionally guarantees Sidewalk gained’t drain your property community’s web bandwidth; at most, Sidewalk will use 500MB of knowledge a month and 80Kbps of bandwidth at a given second. Half a gig is a good bit of knowledge to surrender for those who’re on a strict cap, however it will take lower than an hour to eclipse that quantity for those who’re streaming high-def media or downloading massive information.
opt-out or customise Amazon Sidewalk within the Alexa app
Sidewalk may be a cool concept that gained’t divert tons of energy and knowledge out of your community, and it’s clear Amazon is taking the appropriate safety precautions, however making Sidewalk an opt-out service as a substitute of opt-in is irritating sufficient.
When you’re not on board with Amazon’s large Sidewalk plans, you’ll be able to customise the Sidewalk settings for all of your gadgets within the Alexa cellular app. Go to Settings > Account Settings > Amazon Sidewalk. From right here you’ve a pair choices:
- Faucet “Neighborhood Discovering” to show off approximate location sharing however let your gadgets use Sidewalk, or
- Faucet “Amazon Sidewalk” to toggle it off solely.