I’m sure there’s a few of us out there who have a growing collection of iOS devices no longer in use. Manything is an app that can put those devices to use as motion sensing security cameras.
Manything allows you to turn any iOS device into a free monitoring camera in seconds.
I hadn’t really considered purchasing one of the many dedicated Connected Cameras currently available so, for me, Manything serves as a free introduction to such security measures.
I’d be unlikely to leave behind a shiny new iPhone or iPad to perform such security camera duties. So, a big selling point of this app is utilising old devices. Do iOS devices lack features that dedicated internet Connected Cameras carry? As long as they iOS device is deployed in a well lit place, I don’t think so. If anything, given their capabilities, aren’t they’re overkill? Do note that, I’m no security expert, and have little experience of security cameras.
Before I go ahead and set this up, how might I want this to work? Personally, in my home or office, I haven’t been burgled (yet?). But the computer I’m working on was expensive, and attractive to would-be burglars, I’d imagine. So It would be good to have some security in place. And, when my iOS camera sensed something, I receive an alert on my iPhone, and could view what’s been captured. Live viewing would be nice. And it would be super cool if i could remotely control the camera, turning it on and off, as needed. Well, Manything does all of this.
Ok, let’s set it up and see how it actually works…:
So, I have an iPod Touch 4th generation running iOS 6.1.6 (that’s as far as the Software Updates will go on this model) that’s been sitting in a drawer. It has a decent 720p camera. I’ve downloaded the free Manything app onto it from the App Store.
On the Manything website it states that it’s important to use Apple chargers when leaving Manything unattended. So you’ll want to have the device located near a power outlet. While testing I ran into problems when it wasn’t connected to a power source : when the battery goes below a certain threshold it will only send stills to the Manything ‘cloud’.
Opening the app I’m invited to ‘Watch Intro’, which I do, and informs me that it provides ‘motion activated alerts’, it’s ‘great for business’, ‘live viewing’ (in the demo video the demonstrator has a few cameras / iOS devices set up, and is monitoring multiple cameras), ‘more security features than a $200 camera’, and ‘all your video stored in the cloud’. All sounds great!
I have the choice to Register, or Login. I need to register, which I can do via Facebook or email. So I choose to do so using my email address. I’m then presented with the following screen, which appears intuitive enough to jump right in without having to read FAQs. That’s what we like, nice and easy!
So, I’m guessing I’ll hit the Camera button, put the iPod Touch in place, download the Manything app on my iPhone, log in, and hit the Viewer button to see what the iPod is capturing. Let’s do this!
On the iPod Touch I’m invited to hit the Big Red Button to start recording but, before I do, let’s click the cog (top right) to see the settings:
Ok, lots of control, great, I’ll leave these at default for the moment. I hit that big red button, put the camera in place, on a shelf (no iPod Tripod at hand…). Eventually, the screen goes into a sort of ‘glowing black’ sleep, with time, WiFi, and Power statuses visible.
Right , let’s install the app on my iPhone, log in, and monitor!
Monitoring live in landscape mode is nice (it’s a bit weird seeing what I was doing 10 seconds or so ago, like time traveling! Not quite live, as it’s being streamed form the Manything ‘cloud’, but that’s fair enough, to be expected…). And it seems you’d swipe to view other cameras, if you have them set up (which I don’t).
And, I have a list of captured Events when motion was detected….
What I would like to be able to do is enable it or disable cameras from my iPhone. Well, I can get to the settings of the iPod via the app on my iPhone, and turn the Camera Off (or On). Great! I’ll turn it off , wait for 10 minutes or so to see if it’s listening, so I can turn it On again.
I just noticed in the Settings, I can Mute Audio on the remote camera, too. I didn’t think, it captures, and is triggered by audio. Well, why wouldn’t it?! Great! Actually, it seems you can control every aspect of the remote camera device, just as you would if you were using Manything on the Camera device, itself.
What about pricing? The Manything website states:
While we’re making improvements Manything is completely free. Here’s a look at our future pricing bands that will be introduced early 2015. There’ll always be a free option and you’ll never be charged unless you upgrade.
12 hours cloud recording FREE
Up to 2 Cameras
24 hours cloud recording £1.99/month
7 days cloud recording £2.99/month
30 days cloud recording £6.99/month
48 hours cloud recording £6.99/month
7 days cloud recording £10.49/month
30 days cloud recording £13.99/month
Manything streams and records simultaneously. Continuous cloud recording means your Manything video is stored in the cloud on a rolling basis. Currently you can review recordings from the past 30 days. When video reaches 30 days old it auto-deletes. Live camera limits apply to simultaneously recording cameras.
You can also login to to the Manything website to control and monitor your cameras (so, create a decent password when setting up your account!).
The website allows for live viewing and all manor of controls of the camera device, and the time line for video clips is well implemented, providing visual indications of audio activity. Plenty to play around with here, and you can also access, and view, all of your previous clips which have date and time information .
All in all, Manything looks like a solid security app, a great way to utilise your old iOS devices as motion sensing security cameras. It is very easy to set up, and use. The website provides remote access to pretty much every control you’d need, as does the iOS app in Viewer mode. It can be triggered by sound or motion, although you’ll need to use it in a lit environment (failing that, there’s always remote access to enable the camera’s torch, too!). I’m sure there’s plenty of other features I haven’t covered, other uses (wildlife?), and the time lapse feature is useful.
As I say, I did have problems remotely switching the camera on, but I put this down to the battery falling below a threshold, so always have the camera iOS device plugged into a power supply.
You could compare the amount that your spare iOS device would fetch on, say, eBay, to the cost of a dedicated Connected Camera on Amazon. But for me, I’m going to find a suitable, permanent home for my iPod (near a power source), and stick with Manything for the time being!
One final point, all live, and captured video is accessible online, which many may be uncomfortable with.
Manything can be downloaded for free from here.