Manything: Turn Your Old iPhone, iPad, or iPod Into a Free Home Security Webcam

manythingIn order to keep an eye our house on longer trips as well as monitor our dogs anytime, we bought Samsung WiFi cameras a while ago that stream directly to our phones. We decided not to go with Dropcam in order to avoid recurring monthly fees. Our cams only record short clips onto Google Drive upon motion detection, but it is free and they work adequately for our needs.

A new app called Manything will turn any iPhone, iPad, or iPod with a camera into the same style of streaming WiFi webcam, complete with motion detection and saved video clips in the cloud (currently iOS only, Android in development). Found via ad on Daring Fireball. You can view live streams on your iPhone or computer, and it can send you app or e-mail alerts when there is motion detected.

Recently added was IFTTT support (not even available with Dropcam), which allows you to link the app with other services and networked devices like Philips Hue lightbulbs, Belkin WeMo and Google Nest. Via 9to5Mac and GigaOM, here are some examples of what you could do:

  • Start recording when I leave home, stop recording when I return
  • Start recording when the last family member leaves home
  • When motion detected outside the home, turn on Philips Hue lighting to look like someone’s home
  • Start recording and send alert when Nest smoke alarm is activated

That sounds pretty neat. Right now, they are offering 30 days of continuous cloud recording for free. However, future pricing will include a free option limited to one device and 12 hours of recording. That’s still good enough to serve as a free security camera. Unlimited live viewing and motion detection alerts will also stay free.

My experience. I played around with this app over this last weekend, but perhaps due to the recent press I found their website to be very slow and unresponsive at times. The motion detection and alerts worked, but then I was unable to load up the saved clip, which was frustrating. I had better luck using the app directly to view clips.

Otherwise, viewing the live streams on my phone worked fine; The sound was clear and I counted about a 10 second delay. The app itself is relatively simple and easy to set up. I like being able to adjust the motion sensitivity and to block off specific areas where you should ignore motion. I wish you could change the sensitivity settings remotely however, right now you can only modify them on the actual camera.


  1. boomalog says:

    Do you have a link to the cameras you used?

  2. That’s a really neat concept! It makes sense, I’m just curious about how much it will end up costing, in the future. It’s a good way to repurpose something that you’re not using anymore, too.
    The integration with IFTTT sounds slick. I haven’t heard of the lightbulbs you’re talking about, so I’m going to go check them out.

  3. Not a bad idea! It’s a shame that even older used iPhones never really get cheap… I was shopping for a working, lightly used one a couple months back and had trouble finding anything even close to the low hundreds. They really retain their value (or just break, maybe)

    • You can buy a 4th generation iPod Touch (first one with cameras) from places like Cowboom or eBay for under $100 now. And they can still serve as mp3 player, movie player, video game player, and all kinds of other things besides just a webcam.

  4. I tried this last night. One iPad at home recording and my other iPad as the viewer. Sat in a coffee shop and cold see my living room. Works as advertised, $0

  5. Andy@artofbeingcheap says:

    I love it! This is a great idea. What is neat is that you could buy a broken smart phone on the cheap and still use this. Look for one that still operates, but maybe it can’t make calls or maybe it has a cracked screen. As long as the camera still works this app should work fine.

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