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Most people have spare phones at home, and these spare phones usually just gather dust. However, you can use these phones as Wi-Fi cameras for your home, for the nursery, or for your office. And the good news is that you can do this for free!
Two of these free home security apps are Manything and Presence.
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Manything can help turn your iOS and Android devices into security cameras. All you need to do is to download the free app from the App Store or Google Play, and then choose whether that device would work as a camera or as a viewer.
For instance, if you want to keep an eye on your bedroom, you can set up a spare iPad and set it to work as a camera. You will then need to install the app on your tablet or smartphone and set it up as the viewer. You can now check on what’s happening in your bedroom anytime, anywhere.
Some of Manything’s features include:
- Easy setup. Manything is a breeze to set up. You can have your security system up and running in just a few minutes.
- Live streaming. You can check up on everything in real time. You get to see a live video stream of your cameras on the viewer. You can use your Android or iOS devices, or any Web browser to view the live stream.
- Motion detection. The camera will start recording if it detects motion. This way, you do not have to go through a lot of footage where nothing is happening, as well as save on your storage and battery. What’s more, you can set up motion detection zones, which would limit the areas where the camera would monitor movements. For example, if you have a camera facing outside and it catches a busy street in its view, you can set it so that the camera would not “mind” the movements from the street and record it.
- Motion sensitivity. Aside from being able to record only when movements are detected and only in areas you want to monitor, you can also adjust the motion sensitivity of the camera. This will enable you to capture only the movements that are noteworthy, as opposed to your curtains blowing in the wind, or your cat playing on the floor.
- Two-way communication. You can use your Manything system to talk to people in your house.
- Phone alerts. Manything can send you push or email notifications every time it senses movements or sound.
- Remote control. You can disarm or arm your cameras even when you are not home.
- Clip chart. This feature allows you to share clips with other Manything users, as well as view their clips.
- Facebook Live. If you want, you can also broadcast your live stream as a Facebook Live video.
Manything can work with IFTTT recipes, allowing you to automate it with other connected products and services. Some of the cool things you can do with IFTTT include:
- Start recording by sending an SMS message.
- Switch on your Manything camera on schedule.
- Log events in Google Drive.
- Automate your lights, smart thermostats, and other connected devices with Manythings.
Manything offers an optional cloud recording plan that allows you to save your videos in the cloud, and even go for optional continuous recording.
Depending on the number of cameras you have, you can pay anywhere from $2.99 to $9.99 per month and store two days worth of videos on the cloud. If you want continuous recording, you will pay anywhere from $5.99 to $19.99 per month.
What you would like about Manything
Manything allows you to repurpose your old mobile devices that are just lying around the house or gathering dust in a drawer somewhere. This means that you have an option other than buying a Wi-Fi camera that can cost anywhere from $100 or more.
What’s more, this free app has some neat features. In fact, it gives you some of the more advanced features such as motion zones, motion detection, and two-way communication. There are features that you would find on more advanced and more expensive security cameras out there.
But the best thing about Manything is that you can use it for free. If you have one camera, you do not need to subscribe to the recording plans.
What could be better
Night vision is a problem with ManyThing. It would rely on your device’s flashlight, which might not be bright enough. What’s more, the app would turn the lights on. For those that use devices without a flashlight, you would have to make sure that the camera is in a brightly lit area in order to see things at night.
Also, while you can arm or disarm your camera remotely, Manything currently does not support remote zoom.
Presence Home Security App
Like Manything, Presence allows you to use your spare iPhone or Android devices to keep an eye on your home while you are away. The free app has the following features:
- Live streaming. You can check in anytime from anywhere as long as you have your smartphone with you.
- Email and push notifications. Presence will alert you when there is something happening at home.
- Share access easily. You can allow trusted friends and family to check in on your house or business if you cannot do it yourself. Or you could all watch at the same time because Presence allows simultaneous multiple views to one camera.
- Works with wireless sensors. More than just keeping an eye on things, you can install sensors around your home and check the readings on the same Presence app. You can get temperature, humidity, leak, and entry sensor information on the app itself.
- Control other devices using the Presence app. If you are currently using smart plugs, meters, lights and other connected devices at home, you can pair these with your Presence app and control them.
- Amazon Alexa compatible. If you have Amazon Alexa, you can use voice commands to know what is happening at home. For example, you can ask Alexa to tell you about the wireless sensors you have around the house, or if there is a water leak somewhere. You can also ask Alexa to control the smart plugs, lights, and thermostat. Or simply just ask Alexa to arm or disarm your Presence.
What you would like about Presence
Presence works well, but its best selling point is that it really allows you to be there. You do not just get to see what’s happening at home, but you also get an idea if the door or window is open, or if you have a water leak. You can even get a sense of how hot it is at home.
What could be better
Presence might have more connections to Alexa and other devices, but it does not have IFTTT compatibility. In this regard, Manything trumps Presence. While Manything does not work with Amazon Alexa, you can use IFTTT for some workarounds.
What’s more, the camera-related features for Presence are quite basic. You can only view a live stream and get motion detection for your camera. It does not have the motion zones and motion sensitivity adjustment that Manything offers. Presence also does not have the two-way communication that Manything has.
The final word
Manything and Presence Pro give you a way to use your spare mobile devices and repurpose them as security cameras at home. This allows you to save, considering that a Belkin NetCam HD+ currently sells for $99 and a Nest Cam sells for $199.
While their camera-related features are not that outstanding, these apps allow you to set up a home security system in just minutes and for free at that.
A lot of the specifications would depend on the device you are using. For instance, the field of view, the video quality, and the presence of a flashlight (for night vision) will depend on the specs of the device.
If you want a better camera, two-way communication, and compatibility with IFTTT recipes, then get Manything. But if you want to get a better sense of what’s happening at home, go for Presence. Here is a comparison of both Presence and Manything, as well as the Belkin Netcam HD+ to make it easier for you to compare and contrast their features and capabilities.
|Belkin NetCam HD+||Presence||Manything|
|Field of view (diagonal)||95 degrees||Depends on the device used||Depends on the device used|
|Video quality||1,280×720||Depends on the device used||Depends on the device used|
|Cloud storage||$10 per month for 14 days||50MB free, $2 for seven days, $5 per month for 5GB storage||12 hours free, as low as $3 per month|
|Glass lens||Yes||Depends on the device used||Depends on the device used|
|Night vision||Yes||Device flashlight||Device flashlight|
|Motion and sound alerts||Yes||Motion only||Yes|
|Protocol or third-party integration||No||Very limited third-party integrations available including Amazon Alexa compatibility||IFTTT|