Manything (iOS) review: This free app wants to be your DIY security destination

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The Good The Manything app can transform your old iOS devices into surveillance cameras for free, and Manything's IFTTT channel adds additional home security and automation possibilities to the mix.

The Bad Manything compatibility is limited to your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, and requires iOS 6 or later.

The Bottom Line Manything can't match the video quality and options of some traditional Wi-Fi cameras, but there's no easier way for iOS users to experiment with DIY home security.


7.6 Overall
  • Setup 9
  • Features 7
  • Interface 7.5
  • Performance 8

Manything is a free iOS app that can convert your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad into a security camera in under a minute. Then, you can use a second iOS device as your mobile monitor or opt to keep an eye on things from the Manything Web app. This is an incredibly convenient way to experiment with DIY security -- assuming you already have a spare iPhone, iPod, or iPad at home.

No, it doesn't have the 1080p video quality of the $199 Dropcam Pro , but you also won't have to spend hundreds to decide if entry-level home security suits your needs. Aside from being free, the Manything app has a couple of defining features: its own IFTTT channel and a free, 12-hour Cloud storage option. Since there's no financial risk, you might as well give this simple Wi-Fi camera app a try.

Manything's free app works with iPhones, iPods (Touch models), and iPads running iOS 6 or later. Once you download the app, you can either register through Facebook or with an email address. Log in with your newly registered account and select "Record using this device" to turn that device into an instant security camera and "View my cameras" to access live video -- and other features -- remotely.

Since there's no limit to the number of Apple products that can run Manything, you can set up any combination of compatible devices to assume the roles of camera or on-the-go viewer. That way, multiple iPhones, iPods, and iPads can be repurposed into a whole fleet of security cameras. They'd be collecting dust in a drawer anyway, right?

Setting up the Manything app takes seconds. Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

When you select "Record using this device," that device turns into a DIY home security camera. Simply point it at the area you'd like to monitor and press the red "record" button. Since Apple products don't come with stands, you might have to get creative to position it correctly. The Joby GripTight Micro Stand came with my review kit and made it much easier to adjust the iPod Touch I used as my camera to the correct height and angle.

One usability drawback I encountered related to changing camera settings. Currently, any device you use as a camera can only be reviewed or updated directly from that device. Basically, you are out of luck if you want to make a quick adjustment to the camera recording in your living room when you are at work -- settings are only accessible on the origin device. While that isn't ideal, Manything told me it will be adding remote control of the app in September.

Recording with Manything on an iPod Touch. Colin West McDonald/CNET

Considering that Manything is a free app, it offers a surprising number of features. You can customize the sensitivity of the motion sensor and even set detection zones, so you can focus the motion detector on a particular area, like a window or a doorway. You can enable push and/or email notifications whenever motion is detected and adjust the frequency of the alerts.

You can also tweak the video quality, which ranges from 8 frames per second and 200K ("very low") to 24 frames per second and 700K ("very high"), and enable cellular data if you want a backup when your device loses its Wi-Fi connection. You can mute the audio, enable "stills mode," which takes photos rather than video, and customize the "low-light mode," which works OK in dim lighting, but not as well in a very dark room. And when you're viewing footage on the app, you can access the live video and view clips of saved motion activity.