Thanks to the proliferation of inexpensive IP security cameras from China, you can now purchase a pan-tilt capable security camera with night vision and a boat load of other features for less than 100 dollars. Check out our article on DIY iPhone-controlled Security Cameras for info on how to setup your own simple system.
Part of any good video surveillance system is having the capability to remotely view your camera feeds, which is where the Foscam Surveillance Pro App for iPhone comes in.
There are a ton of IP security camera viewing and control apps out there, some are good, some are awful. Since I had opted to purchase a Foscam brand (Foscam FI8918WW) camera, I wanted an app that had Foscam compatibility in mind. A quick search of the iTunes App Store revealed several. The Foscam Surveillance Pro app had some excellent reviewer feedback, so I gave it a try.
After installing the app, the first thing required is camera configuration information for the IP camera you wish to view. You must first choose a model of camera. While the Foscam Surveillance Pro app name would imply that it only supports Foscam-branded cameras, it actually supports many cameras from many different vendors.
After selecting a model, you must supply the IP address or host name of the camera along with the port, username, and password. Most cameras use port 80, but it depends on the setup of your particular camera. It is important to note that your camera must already be accessible via the internet before it will work with the app.
My camera's IP address is a non-public, internal IP, given to my camera by the DHCP server on my wireless access point. Since the IP is not a "real" IP, I had to enable the port forwarding option on my router and tell it that any inbound connections that are trying to come in on port 80 from the internet, should be routed to my camera's internal (DHCP-assigned) IP address. Once this is setup, all I have to do is find out what my internet service provider-assigned IP address is (by using a site such as Whatsmyip.org) and I am all set to connect to my camera from the Internet.
After you successfully enter in your connection information into the Foscam Surveillance Pro app, all you have to do is touch the camera's name and you will be taken to the viewer. The controls available depend on the model of camera you chose during setup. If you chose a pan-tilt capable camera, you will see a virtual joystick that you can touch to move the camera around. The lag time between when you touch the joystick and when the camera actually moves will depend on how good your connection is from your iPhone.
While in viewer mode, you can rotate your phone to see a full screen landscape view from the camera. The joystick disappears in landscape view allowing you to touch an area of the screen to move the camera instead of using the virtual joystick. You can also pinch-zoom in and out on areas of interest within the camera window.
Other cool features (if supported by your specific camera) provided by the app include:
- Multi-camera mosaic view allowing you to view up to six camera feeds on your iPhone's screen at one time
- Brightness and contrast controls that change the camera's on-board settings
- Motion Sensor enable / disable / adjust
- Motion sensor triggered snapshot to e-mail settings control
- Set and access presets for different camera positions
- Enable / disable "patrol mode"
This app has been great for piece of mind, allowing me to virtually check on things at my house when I'm away. The developer is very active and resolving issues and adding new features as well.
Foscam Surveillance Pro is available for $4.99 at the iTunes App Store