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

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Viewing saved clips. Colin West McDonald/CNET

Currently, Manything offers 30 days of free continuous Cloud storage, but expects to introduce a tiered fee system later this year. Fortunately, Manything plans to always offer a free storage option. The free option will include 12 hours of storage on one active recording device. There will also be a $5/month, 7-day storage option and a $15/month, 30-day storage option.

Here's a side-by-side comparison between Manything and some more traditional IP cameras:

Belkin NetCam HD+ Dropcam Pro Piper Samsung SmartCam HD Pro Manything
Price $130.00 $199.00 $199.00 $189.00 Free
Color White Black White White N/A
Field of view (diagonal) 95 degrees 130 degrees 180 degrees 128 degrees iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad specs
Video quality 1,280x720 1,920x1,080 1,920x1,080 1,920x1,080 iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad specs
Cloud storage Yes, $10/month or $100/year for 14 days Yes, $10/month or $99/year for 7 days or $30/month or $299/year for 30 days Yes, saves up to 1,000 clips at no extra cost No Yes, 12 hours free, $5/month for 7 days, or $15/month for 30 days
Local storage No, but you can download clips from the Web app No No Yes, SD card No
Glass lens Yes Yes Yes Yes iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad specs
Night vision Yes Yes No Yes No, but low light mode
Mobile app Yes, Android and iOS Yes, Android and iOS Yes, Android and iOS Yes, Android and iOS Yes, but iOS only
Web app Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bluetooth No Yes No No No
2-way audio Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Motion and sound alerts Motion only, and limited to email alerts unless you subscribe to Cloud+. Yes Yes Yes Motion only
Protocol or third-party integration No No Yes, Z-Wave No Yes, IFTTT

While the device periodically lost its Wi-Fi connection, video quality varied, and the live feed did lag at various intervals, the motion detection feature and related notifications worked extremely well. When the Wi-Fi connection was especially bad, the camera would temporarily switch to "stills only" mode and continue to capture photos of motion activity and send out alerts.

I like that stills mode acts as its own built-in backup during periods when the Wi-Fi connection was slower. And while it didn't match the video quality of the Dropcam Pro, I also didn't experience any significant problems using this app -- that's particularly impressive, considering that this is a free IP camera "hack."

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The Manything app in regular day mode and low light mode. Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

I also tested Manything as an IFTTT channel and it didn't disappoint. I paired Manything with a lamp-connected Belkin WeMo Switch, so every time Manything detected motion, the WeMo Switch turned the lamp on and then off. Manything is the first security camera to offer an IFTTT channel and there are several customizations that would work well.

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Creating an IFTTT recipe with Manything and Belkin WeMo. Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

While Manything's IFTTT channel is unique, it isn't the first app to offer an IP camera work-around. It's very similar to the Presence iOS app, and the IP Webcam app for Android devices. The Presence app has two-way talk, motion alerts, and separate home automation product add-ons. The IP Webcam app is a bit more rudimentary, but you can still use it for remote monitoring.

Recap

If you're looking for crisp, high quality videos, the $199 Dropcam Pro is still your best bet. But for a quick, free set up, you can't beat Manything. It isn't available on Android devices yet (Manything told me an Android app is in the works for 2015), and it doesn't offer two-way talk or audio alerts, but this iOS app offers free Cloud storage, an IFTTT channel, and motion alerts. When you factor in the value, this is a great way to experiment with DIY home security or simply keep track of what your mischievous pets get up to when you're away from home.

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