Make an iOS security cam
Give your old iPhone a new purpose in your smart home with Manything
One key component of the smart home is security, but it comes at a cost, particularly if you want to monitor more than one spot in your home.
But why spend hundreds of pounds on cameras when you’ve got the hardware capabilities locked away in an old, unloved iPhone or iPad? Thanks to apps like Manything (manything.com), you can dust off your old device and turn it into a smart security camera.
You’re not skimping on features either – thanks to motion-sensitive recording, alerts and the ability to view and administer your cameras remotely, Manything rivals the likes of the Canary, Arlo Q and other smart security cameras. It enables you to connect up to five mobile devices for house-wide surveillance, plus access advanced tools like operating Manything to a time- or location-based schedule by integrating it with ifttt.com.
Sadly, like most home security systems, Manything doesn’t offer all of its services for free, but its prices are competitive and flexible. The Basic Free Plan includes live streaming, motion alerts and detection zones with one camera only. To record footage so you can review it, you’ll need one of the paid-for plans, which require two decisions: how many cameras you want to record (one, two or five) and how many days of footage to store in the cloud (two, seven or 30).
Manything’s prices range from £1.99 per month for two days’ recording on one camera, to £17.99 per month for 30 days of recording on up to five cameras – see bit.ly/2bmupYl to find your sweet spot. However, don’t rush into a decision; when you first install the app, you get a free five-day trial of the full five-camera setup. The cheapest option is to subscribe through the website rather than the app, as the latter adds a premium of up to £1.50 depending on the package you choose.
Manything lets your old devices live on in a relevant, helpful way
First, verify your old iPhone is running at least iOS 6.0, which is the minimum requirement. That basically means you’ll need at least an
iPhone 3GS, iPad 2 or fourth-generation iPod touch to be able to use Manything. Assuming your device fits the bill, download Manything from the App Store, then open the app and tap ‘Sign up’ to create an account. Enter your email address and provide a strong, unique password, tap ‘Sign up’ again and you’ll be taken to Manything’s main menu.
Next, tap Camera to add the phone you’re using to your Manything account, and then grant the app access to the device’s camera and microphone when it prompts you for permission to use them. The main screen will appear, showing you what your phone’s camera can see. You’ll be prompted to press the big red button that’s on the right or bottom of the screen (depending on your device’s current orientation) to switch on the camera’s recording capability.
After doing all of this, the app will start to record video whenever it detects motion in front of the camera. (Note that a continual recording option is also available in Manything’s settings). All recordings are streamed or uploaded (in the case of time-lapse recordings) to the cloud, so make sure your device has internet access wherever you decide to place it in order for this to happen.
Position your camera
Placement of your device is, of course, crucial. First, it needs to be positioned next to a power source, so it can be permanently powered from the mains – Manything will keep your phone awake while it’s running, so you can’t afford to rely on battery power for long. Second, your device will need to be on its side so its camera shoots a landscape view, as this provides a wider field of vision. Search eBay for ‘wide-angle iPhone lens’ to purchase a cheap lens (about £3) to widen this further. There’s a slight bowing of the picture at the top and bottom with these lenses, but it doesn’t prevent you from seeing what’s happening, and they should also work with iPad and iPod touch cameras too. The lens may obscure the camera’s flash, which could be an issue if you want night-time security.
Third, which camera should you use? Ideally the rear-facing
Beyond security, you could record your pet’s unattended antics to post on YouTube.
Search eBay for a range of inexpensive ways to secure your iPhone or iPad to a specific spot.