Did you know it’s possible to use your iPhone as a webcam? It’s never going to quite mimic a webcam in the traditional sense, but there are a few apps that’ll record the phone’s camera and send it to a Mac, a Windows PC, another mobile device, or even to the web.
Doing so has practical benefits. For example, you could use it as a baby monitor, a pet monitor, or security camera. If you’ve got an old device gathering dust in a drawer, it could save you a significant amount of money.
Keeping reading to discover five apps that’ll let you use your iPhone’s camera as a webcam.
1. EpocCam Wireless Virtual Computer Webcam (free)
With more than three million downloads and a 4.5-star rating, EpocCam Wireless Virtual Computer Webcam is the most popular and most frequently downloaded webcam app in the App Store.
It works with all webcam-enabled apps (such as Skype and Google Hangouts), supports your iPhone’s rear- and front-facing cameras, and encrypts all the video it records. It has a wireless range of 20 feet.
In addition to the app, you’ll also need to download the drivers directly from the developer’s website. Setting up the connection is fully automated; you don’t need to do anything. You can upgrade to EpocCam HD for $6. It introduces autofocus and an on/off toggle for the flashlight.
Unfortunately EpocCam has a few negative reviews of late, and hasn’t received an update for a while. Fortunately it’s free to try, so you can make sure it works before deciding if it’s worth upgrading or not.
2. PocketCam Lite (free)
PocketCam Lite lets you use your iPhone’s camera as the main webcam for your Windows or Mac computer. It’s compatible with FaceTime, iChat, Skype, MSN Live Messenger, and AIM, among others.
It’s great if you need to walk around your house or office while you’re on a video call – you won’t need to worry about lugging your laptop around with you or tripping over cables. Because of how it works, you can also record the app’s output on your machine using webcam recording software such as QuickTime.
As with EpocCam, you’ll need to download drivers from the developer’s website before the app can function.
The Lite version only sends black and white video and will not transmit audio. For a color feed and audio playback, you’ll need to buy the pro version for $5. Again, the free-to-try model is handy for testing whether or not the app works for you before you hand over any money.
3. AtHome Camera (free)
AtHome Camera is unique; a computer can remotely view your iPhone’s camera feed, but the iPhone app can also remotely view your computer’s webcam feed. There are two parts to the app – a streamer and a viewer. Both can run on computers (Mac and Windows), smartphones, and tablets.
Aside from the flexibility, it also has some other great features:
- Two-way talk: It doesn’t matter whether you’re using the streamer app or the viewer app, you can talk to any connected device and hear the audio from that device. This makes it a perfect two-way baby or pet monitor.
- Motion Detection: You’ll get an instant notification if there is movement on your camera.
- Scheduled recording: If you just want to monitor your camera at certain times of the day – perhaps while you’re at work – you can pre-program the app.
It’s not your traditional webcam app, it’s advert-supported, and comes with options to upgrade for a premium fee. As with the others, try before you buy to see if it works for you.
4. Presence (free)
A lot of what Presence offers is the same as the three apps I’ve already looked at. But it has one important difference – 50 MB of free cloud storage.
It doesn’t sound like much, but it’ll let you record and save a few minutes of footage if you see an intruder in your home or see your dog doing something hilarious while you’re not there. If you upgrade to the pro version (via in-app purchase), you’ll be able to save up to 5 GB of content in the cloud.
Presence also has an accompanying web app, meaning you can log in and see your feeds from any computer in the world.
Lastly, check out the “App-Driven Motorized Camera Mount for iPhone” on Amazon. Connect it to your iPhone, and you can use the Presence app to control the swivel and get a 360-degree view of your home.
If you don’t want to use third-party apps, you could try using FaceTime. It’s not designed to be a webcam app, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook it.
FaceTime has one significant advantage over the third-party options: reliability. It’s made by Apple, supported by Apple, and running on an Apple operating system. If something goes wrong with a third-party option when you’re away from home, you could be left in an awkward position; with FaceTime, it should be easier to recreate a connection.
All you need is a copy of the app on your iPhone and your Mac. Importantly, you need to make sure the two apps have different contact details under the setting for You can be reached for FaceTime at. (iPhone: Settings > FaceTime / OS X: FaceTime > Preferences). If you have the same details listed for each, you’ll get a busy tone when you try and connect.
Finally, put your phone in the area you want to monitor and call it from your Mac. You’ll need to manually answer it, but the connection should be fairly reliable once you’ve done so.
Do You Use Your iPhone as a Webcam?
EpocCam and PocketCam Lite let you use the phone as a proxy for your computer’s webcam, but they have a limited range. AtHome Camera gives you flexibility over which device you want to be the recorder and which you want to be the viewer. Presence is more akin to a CCTV system, with a web app and unlimited range. And lastly, FaceTime gives you a native way to access your phone’s camera.
Which method do you prefer? Have you found an app that deserves to be included in this list? Perhaps you’ve found an alternative way of accessing your camera that doesn’t rely on an app at all?
You can get in touch with your thoughts and recommendations in the comments section below.
Image credit: Valentin Valkov via Shutterstock