Use Your iPhone as a Webcam: Here’s How [iOS]

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use iphone as webcamIf 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.

Simon has already come up with a wireless webcam solution for Android, this is for iPhone and the iOS platform. And Joel Lee shared three fun tools to get more out of your webcam.

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.

use iphone as webcam

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.

use iphone web camera

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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.

use iphone web camera

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.

use iphone web camera

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.

use iphone as camera

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.

PocketCam (Free)

PocketCam is the best free webcam app that worked in my tests. The free lite version provides only black and white resolution, while the paid version ($4.99) supports full color and audio.

use iphone as 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.

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Comments (10)
  • Dermaklos

    Please, tell me how can i use Iphone as a simple usb cam? Not using wifi…. only usb… Best regards.

  • Neil

    Hi I actually have windows based application that requires a USB webcam. The application is looking for a camera that is attached to it.

    Is there some way that these approaches you mentioned can be used with an iphone?

    I have tried a standard usb webcam however the quality of the images and the lack of an easy way to do a wide angle shot is a limitation of all of the ones I have seen.

    Any help gratefully received.

  • David R

    A Message to Bakari and the rest of the MakeUseOf Team:
    You folks continue to amaze me! I used to buy a variety of computer magazines trying to keep up with new technology and find better ways to use what I have. I don’t need to do that now. Your articles are timely, well written and practical. Add to that the comments and tips from your technically savy readers! This article is a good example of how well the partnership works. Thanks for an excellent article and to the “comment” contributors for their valuable additions!

    • Bakari Chavanu

      Hey David, thanks so much for you feedback. I have to agree with you. We put out three to four times more content in a month than most magazines do in an entire year. Feedback from our readers really helps know what type of content is most interesting. Thanks.

  • Bridget can also save photos AND sound clips from Third eye, also you can make the image you see in the browser full screen. Wow, this one is the winner to me!! 5 stars! =)

  • Bridget

    Well I have the new ipod touch, which has facecam, but unfortunately cannot facecam to an email address in contacts. There is no facecam button there. Okay, next one the Mobiola, I’d like to see a free version to see if it works for me. (I have a pc, not mac) Next one, the pocketcam failed for me. Everything installed fine, but the app never refreshed the picture..
    I have tried “Mini webcam” and so far it is the only one I have found that works,( and works pretty well), letting my ipod be the cam instead of needing one hooked up to my pc, which is what I am looking for here. It’s FREE too, or at least was when I downloaded it.
    Okay just found another which I am going to say is even better! Check out an app called “Third Eye”. The Lite version impressed me enough that I paid for the full version ($1.99, not bad at all on the price!) and it has color video capture with sound! All you do is copy the url link into a web browser, and the images are sharp, close up, and I can also HEAR what is going on. I like it! =)

    • Bakari Chavanu

      Cool, Bridget, thanks for the tip. I don’t have a touch, so sometimes I can’t always know what its limitations are. Your app tip will be useful to other readers using the iPod touch.

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This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.