Free home security with old iOS devices
Free (IAPs) From Manything Systems Ltd, manything.com Made for iPhone, iPad Needs iOS 8.0 or later The downside of buying new iPhones and iPads is that it’s easy to accumulate older devices — especially if you don’t trade them in or gift to friends or family members. Fortunately, app developers have come up with some clever ways to repurpose damaged or unwanted hardware.
One such app is Manything — the name is a mash–up of “monitor anything” — which transforms spare devices into home security cameras. As long as your devices run iOS 8.0 or later and have a working camera, you’re in business. (The app can be used on older devices running iOS 6 or iOS 7, but only if you install on a newer device first.)
Getting started is a snap: Register for an account from the first device (this can only be done within the app), then choose whether that hardware will be used as a Viewer or Camera. Repeat the process by installing the app on a second device and logging in with the
same credentials. Then you’re ready to tap the red button on the Camera device, and a few seconds later the live stream appears on the Viewer device.
The app is free but limited to live streaming from a single camera. That’s enough for infrequent use or for parents with a newborn child, for example, but subscription plans (available direct or via iTunes) add cloud recording starting at $3.99 per month, or up to five cameras for $25.99 a month; note that there’s no free trial for cloud recording.
We were impressed by the breadth of Manything’s capabilities. Standalone security camera systems are equipped with features like motion or sound detection and alerts, and these are available here as well. You can adjust video streaming quality, with separate options for Wi-Fi and cellular. (You definitely should, because the default Fair setting doesn’t look so great.)
Detection offers 10 levels of sensitivity with the option to set up specific zones to monitor, while alerts can be sent via push notification, email, or both. In our tests, motion detection worked most reliably when set to four or five, which triggered fewer false alerts.
The only real limitation is that the app tends to be a battery hog — after all, iOS devices weren’t made for constant use, while security hardware is designed with this in mind. Manything shows a warning whenever the Camera is started while on battery, and conveniently displays current device battery level while monitoring. Mounting a camera is also more of an issue with a smartphone or tablet, especially for outdoor use; the developers offer a variety of compatible accessories on their website, including a free printable stand or sun shield.
Manything cameras can be monitored from multiple Viewer devices at the same time, including web browsers. It’s worth noting that live stream sessions are saved to your account for up to 30 days even without a subscription, which could be a privacy concern for some users.
One device is a camera, while other “Viewer” devices log in to monitor what’s going on at home.
You’ll no longer have to wonder if your dog is tearing up the furniture while you’re away from home with Manything.