When I leave my home I take comfort in knowing that I can see what’s going on at all times. No, I don’t have an expensive video monitoring system. I just use a few webcams, my iDevice, and a $5 app called iCam. Seriously, if you have a webcam, and you own an iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad, you better be using iCam. It is THE best way to stream audio and video to your iDevice.
And with version 2.0, iCam is even better than the first time I reviewed it.
It used to be that iCam would lets users stream video w/audio from up to 4 webcams from anywhere in the world to their iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch over Wifi, 3G, or Edge. Not anymore. Now users can view up to 12 webcams on an iPhone and 16 on an iPad. And for every camera users can turn on motion detection with the option to receive push notifications and record images when there’s movement in front of their webcam. No more wondering if someone is sneaking into your office to steal your tuna. No more trying to figure out if your dogs are taking a dump on the carpet.And, no more thieving house visits. iCam can see it all. Correction, you can see it all with iCam.
Setup. Configuration is pie. First, download and install the iPhone app (iTunes link). Then, download and install the iCamSource desktop app (PC or Mac). Once installed open the desktop app, add your webcams by clicking the “+” icon, select your audio and video sources, enter a login/password (same for the desktop and iDevice), and adjust the slider between “better frame rate” or “better image quality” to improve quality. For motion detection click the the motion detection tab, enable the feature, and turn on push notifications and motion event recording. When you’re done click Start. The final step requires you enter the desktop login/password information into the iCam app on your iDevice. That’s it. ★★★★
Features. Beyond the simple act of streaming video to your iDevice, iCam provides great features that make the app better than the competition and totally worth purchasing.
From the app you can:
- Toggle audio
- Set and receive push notifications
- Enable motion event recording
- Adjust the sensitivity for how motion is detected
- View captured motion events
- View date, time, and camera source on the feed
From the desktop software app you can:
- Set up and name USB, Firewire, Built-in, or Ethernet/WiFi cameras
- Adjust quality of feed for slower connections
- Auto-config stubborn routers
- Adjust motion detection features (notifications, motion recording, save folder, motion detection frequency)
- Schedule each camera for when you want to start receiving notifications and recording images
To share your camera feeds with other iDevice users all you need to do is give them your username/password. To share with non-iDevice users SKJM has a Web version that you can share with friends who want to view the video feed (just be sure you trust who you’re sharing your credentials with and you change your credentials afterward just to be safe). What’s missing? Truth be told there are two features that iCam is still missing: on-motion video recording and the ability to turn on your webcam from the iCam app. But, I can live without these features because the app remains the best of its kind. ★★★★
Support. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, SKJM technical support is the best of any app developer I’ve dealt with. If you run into problems send Stefan or Jay an e-mail, or visit their company’s support forum. You’ll have a response within a few hours. And if the issue isn’t resolved they will work with you until it is. ★★★★★
Tips and Tricks
- Auto-start. If you’re like me, you have your computer set up to automatically download and install updates. Sometimes that means the comp will restart itself. Set iCamSource to auto-start your camera and place a shortcut link to the app in your startup folder (PC); right-click on the iCam icon in your dock and choose open at login from the options menu.
- Password. If you forget your password, it’s not a big deal. Just create new login credentials on your desktop and enter those credentials into the app. No need to contact SKJM support since you are the master of your own account.
- Remote-start. On occasion I stop iCam desktop at the source. Since iCam doesn’t have a remote start option, I use the remote client LogMeIn Ignition ($29.99) which is an iPhone extension of their free LogMeIn web/desktop application. A few clicks and iCam is up and running.
- Sync. The iCam desktop app saves motion photos in a folder. Why not sync that folder across computers and to the cloud? It’s pretty easy. Choose your sync program of choice (Windows Live Mesh, DropBox, SugarSync, etc). Create a folder for the videos. Open the iCamSource, select the Motion Detection tab, and choose the folder you just created. Wherever you go your images are sure to follow.
- Share. My brother and I live in different regions. We’re both nerds and like to see what the other is doing so we use agreed upon credentials to make this happen. Similarly, if your family is of the iPhone/iPad persuasion, you can enter the credentials into all the apps and share your video feeds.
- No iPhone/iPad. No Problem. If you’re reading this and you don’t have an iPhone or an iPad (I’m really not going to ask why you made it this far, but w/e) you can still utilize the iCamSource software. Download the desktop app, configure it, and then open up the Web interface. Tadah! You’ve got iCam sans an iPhone/iPad.
You don’t have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a home/work video monitoring system. You just need an iDevice, your PC/Mac, a cheap webcam, and the iCam app. In fact, if you think my write up sucks or is biased feel free to check out JumiCam, My Webcam, and OrbLive. After looking at those apps I’m confident you’ll end up back at iCam. It’s easy, chock full of features, and the developers provide superb technical support.
Overall Rating: ★★★★½
Do you use iCam? What are your likes and/or dislikes? What’s it missing? Let me know by commenting below or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.