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DIY security monitor – put an old iPhone or iPad to good use

If you’ve been using Apple’s iPhone or iPad family for a number of years now, you’ve likely found that you have an older device or two lying around in a drawer somewhere. There are ways to put such unloved and unwanted iOS devices to good use.

Selling the device on is always an option, given the high resale value of Apple gear. But if the iPhone or iPad is more than a couple of years old and/or in less than prime condition, you might not feel it’s worth the effort.

But there is another option you might not have considered. Why not turn your old iPhone or iPad into a makeshift baby, pet or security monitor? Here’s how to do it.

1. Download and login to Manything

There are multiple apps that let you turn your old iPhone into a monitoring device (special shout out to Presence and Salient Eye), but we’ve chosen to go with Manything for the purpose of clarity and convenience.

Get Manything

Manything is free to download, it has a crisp and intuitive interface, and it ties in nicely with the Internet of Things through its IFTTT channel.

Once you’ve downloaded Manything, tap the Sign up button and input your details. Now repeat the process on your secondary, spare iPhone or iPad, only tapping Log in rather than Sign up (using the same login details, obviously).

2. View footage from one camera on the other

Tap on Camera on your spare device, and grant the necessary permissions. Tap the record button to start your spare device’s live view (we’d recommend plugging it into power). It will automatically detect and record any motion.

Next, on your main iPhone or iPad, tap Viewer, followed by the thumbnail picture supplied by your spare device. You’ll now be provided with a live feed taken from the spare phone, as well as any motion events it has recorded – though you won’t be able to watch those back on the free tier.

Hit the Talk tab and hold the talk button if you want to talk to the person on the other end – to ward off an intruder or comfort a child, for example.

3. Upgrade for more options

If you want to watch those recorded events back, or to hook up more than one spare device, you’ll need to pay for one of the various Manything subscription plans.

These tiers are split depending on your exact needs, with prices ranging from $3/£3 per month for one camera and two days of storage right up to almost $20/£20 per month for five cameras and 30 days of storage.

In all cases, your captured video content will be deleted from the Manything servers after the specified time.

4. Check out other people’s footage

You’re probably well into the whole spare smartphone snooping thing by now. Perhaps you’re curious to see what kinds of things other people have captured using Manything?

Just tap on Viewer > Manything Clip Chart, and watch footage of countless snoopers, pets, and freakish phenomena captured on repurposed iPhones and iPads.

It’s amusing stuff, but it also shows how powerful your neglected hardware can be if you put it to the proper use.

5. Hook up to the IoT

One of the other benefits of Manything is the ability to tie your spare iPhone into your wider smart home set-up.

Manything has its own IFTTT channel, accessed from the main menu. If This Then That (IFTTT) is a brilliant free service that binds the Internet of Things, setting rules and schedules for your equipment to follow, and enabling disparate devices to work together.

So, you can easily program Manything to turn your Philips Hue lights on when it detects motion outside your front door, or to turn on when you leave your house, among other things. There are countless Applets already made for you, so experiment!