If you’re wanting to use your iPhone as a remote webcam, Apple’s FaceTime is probably the best option, but there are a few other free and inexpensive apps that are useful and offer a few features missing in FaceTime. I downloaded and tried out a handful, and while I found none of them to be perfect, I did discover a few that will work well in a pinch. They are also less expensive than purchasing a dedicated remote wireless camera.
Using your iPhone as a remote webcam might be useful for home surveillance, if you need to monitor a baby in another room, temporarily watch your front or backyard, or because you need an alternative external webcam to use with Skype, Google+, Windows Live Messenger, AIM, or other messaging applications.
FaceTime as a Webcam
If you are a Mac user you can use the built-in FaceTime application (which by the way can be used over cellular by AT&T users) as a webcam which comes installed on your iPhone and Mac. To use FaceTime on your iPhone to connect with FaceTime on your Mac, you need to make sure they are not using the same contact number or email address on both devices, a relatively easy set-up.
Open the Settings app on your iPhone and scroll down to the FaceTime button (FaceTime on the iPhone is not a separate app), and where it says “You can be reached by FaceTime at:” be sure just your phone number is checked, which is probably how most people will connect with you on FaceTime anyway. You can also choose an email address instead of your phone number.
Next, on your Mac, launch the FaceTime application and click FaceTime > Preferences in the menu bar and select a different contact email than the one on your iPhone. The purpose of doing this is to make sure that when you use FaceTime with either device you won’t get a busy signal. If need be, you can also add another unique email address for FaceTime on your Mac.
To use your iPhone as a webcam—for example to monitor activity on your front porch—locate your name in your Contacts on your iPhone, scroll down and tap on the FaceTime button and select the email address you entered for your FaceTime connection on your Mac.
Mobiola WebCamera ($4.99)
Of all the third-party apps I tested for the iPhone, Mobiola WebCamera ($4.99) works the best on my Mac. As an iPhone app it connects to your Mac or PC using a Wi-Fi connection, though you will need to download connect to the desktop client viewer in order to use it.
Both the app and web client connect automatically, but when you first launch the Mobiola WebCamera app, the camera resolution is set to low. If you want and need a higher resolution, you will have to tap on the Settings button at the bottom of the screen and change the capture quality to High.
In Settings, you’ll notice that Mobiola WebCamera also includes a flashlight, speaker, and mic. However, the latter two features never worked for me. The app also includes video and snapshot capture, but using the former feature caused the app to crash several times in my test. It worked better when I changed the camera resolution to Medium. All of your WebCamera captures are saved by default to your Movies and Pictures folder on your Mac.
The Mobiola is not good as using FaceTime, but it’s a good option if you don’t want to tie up your iPhone when using it as a webcam.
As with Mobiola WebCamera, you can adjust the video resolution and compression rates to low or high, and you will need to download and install the Windows or Mac software client to use as the viewer.
You can also change the webcam position in PocketCam, including the ability to flip the screen vertically and horizontally.
The Bottom Line
While you will never use your iPhone as a dedicated webcam, FaceTime and these third-party apps are handy to use and cheaper than buying a more expensive web camera. Let us know how these apps work for you, and if you have a better solution, please share your recommendation.
Do you use your iPhone as a wireless webcam? What apps are best for you? Share your thoughts with us in the comments at the end of this post.