You might have an old iPhone laying around doing nothing just catching dust. That’s really a shame,… these phones are actually pretty capable “computers”, have a reasonable screen and a camera build in. So why not Go-Green and recycle these iPhones for a different purpose?
In this article I’ll show you 2 ways of repurposing your old iPhone as a so called IP Camera, or Security Camera, with free tools/Apps.
Note : This is not the first article I post on how to repurpose your old iPhone – Look in the category Repurpose old iOS devices for more ways to give your old iPhone or iPods (running iOS) a new life.
Version for your iPhone
Using an old iPhone can potentially come with a downside: The operating system may be outdated and not allowing the installation of needed apps, or not supporting functionality we’d like to use (other phrases used for operating system are system software, ROM, or firmware). With an iPhone we’re talking about the version of iOS.
The first problem I ran into was that my old iPhone was a really old, a 1st generation iPhone (a.k.a. iPhone 2G) …
Apple’s App Store isn’t supporting it anymore (shame on you Apple – I would have bought the apps that I needed!). Basically anything older than iPhone 4 is screwed out of the option to install apps (and with the introduction of the next generation of iPhones, this will be bumped again!).
Use your “old” iPhone as an IP Camera
You may ask “What is an IP Camera?” – Well, an IP camera is a video camera, or security camera, connected to your network (wired or wireless) that can be accessed through a web-browser or special application on your PC, Phone or tablet. Typical applications are monitoring your baby sleep, watching your dog, keeping an eye on the front door, etc.
What you’ll find in such an IP camera are a camera (duh) and a tiny “computer” that serves the video feed to whoever is connected to it through the network.
These IP camera’s can be bought relatively cheap (starts at about $90), but why buy one if you already have all the needed hardware in your old phone?
I’ve found this idea to be more cumbersome than expected – it was a no-brainer on Android. Unless you’re a Mac user and utilize FaceTime – IF your old phone has Facetime, at the same token Skype could be an option too. But neither of those solutions are “permanent” – meaning: an IP camera broadcasts video all the time. Video chat apps like FaceTime and Skype are only showing video when connected in a call, which is not practical in this scenario …
iPhones NOT Supported By the AppStore
For older iPhones, like my old 1st generation iPhone (a.k.a. iPhone 2G), I was unable to find a working alternative. So if your phone is running iOS lower than 4.x then you seem to be out of luck – unfortunately …
Cydia used to have apps like QIK available, back in the day, but those apps appear outdated and no longer seem to work with the current QIK service.
Another method for your old phone, but personally I think it sucks, is by running Veency (also available in Cydia). Veency is a VNC Server, kind-a like remote desktop. It allows you to control you iPhone remotely by displaying the screen of your iPhone on your computer by using a so called VNC Client like ThightVNC.
Now that you can see the screen of your iPhone on your computer, you could open the camera App of your iPhone and see the video feed on your desktop as well … but it’s sluggish and slow, incompatible with IP Cam viewers, and … you’ll always need a VNC client (which are available for most computer platforms and cellphones).
iPhones Supported By the AppStore
For newer phones Whited00r is not needed when they are still supported by the app store. If you’re trying to use such a phone then I’d highly recommend “iPCamera – High-End Network Camera“. It’s free, easy to configure, and allows viewing of the video feed in a web-browser.
I sure wish this free App would have been available for my old iPhone, it might be available in the future with whited00r or a successor of Whited00r.
Please Note …
Although IPCamera works great, and can be viewed in a simple web-browser, I do have to mention that I wasn’t able to find a video feed suitable for IP Camera Apps or programs. Instead, it seems, individual JPEG images are being broadcasted where as most IP Camera viewers expect a video stream.
QIK Alternative …
QIK is an alternative you could use, it used to be available on Cydia, but that version no longer seems to work with the QIK service.
QIK now has gone “legit” and is available for all iPhones … except the old iPhones they started out with … not cool.
– The free App can be downloaded from the Apple AppStore through the QIK Download link.
– For non iPhones: QIK supports a boat load of phones, including but not limited to Android, BlackBerry, etc. Here is a full list.
IP Camera at the App Store
Install the app from the Apple App Store, and start it. That’s all there is to it.
When the app starts, it will show right away the video feed. At the bottom you will see the address you will have to enter in your browser – http://192.168.1.102 in the illustration below (this address will most likely be different for your setup).
IP Camera screen on your iPhone
Enter the displayed address into the address field of your web-browser and the video feed will be made visible. All controls needed for camera (rear/front), resolution, etc can be found and controlled here. Battery life is displayed as well.
IP Camera video feed in your browser
Now it’s up to you where to place the “camera” – in the baby bedroom, at the front door, in your office, etc …
Since battery life is limited, you’ll probably want to connect the phone to a charger permanently – other wires are not needed since the feed goes over WiFi.
Accessing your new IP camera from the Internet (not needed for QIK!)
So you’d like to access your new IP camera’s remotely, meaning outside of the range of your Wifi – for example at work, or when you’re on vacation. This is very well possible, as most smartphones have a fast Internet connection as well (3G, 4G, UMTS, whatever they call it). I have even had success with good old snail slow EDGE.
Before you can access you IP camera from the Internet (including 3G etc.), you’ll do need to do some Port Forwarding and possible need the use of a Dynamic DNS service. Please read the last paragraphs of the “Home Network Basics” article and consult the manual of the IP Camera App you’re using. Some App providers do provide a small tutorial for this as well.
The short version:
1) You need to be able to reach your home network.
Your home network can be reached through it’s public IP Address. This can be problematic, specially when your Public IP Address changes each time you disconnect from the Internet. A service like DynDNS.org however provides the means to work around this problem by linking a web-address (http://www.example.com) to your IP Address and having your modem for example automatically update the Public IP Address information when it changes.
2) Your Android IP Camera needs a fixed IP Address.
Most phones, by default, use DHCP (dynamic IP Address). This is not practical for port forwarding and you’ll have to go into the network settings to set it to a static IP address.
3) Redirect the IP Port(s) to your IP Camera.
To access your home network is one thing. Next you’ll need to tell your modem or router where to direct incoming traffic to. For this purpose we assign an IP Port which will be mapped or forwarded to your new Android based IP Camera.