Update: Added Cloud Baby Monitor and Presence.
Just because your old smartphone is a couple of generations old doesn’t mean it can’t be put to good use. When you get down to it, even the most outdated phone is still a palm-sized computer stuffed with advanced sensor tech. So instead of throwing it away or reselling it for less than what you paid originally, why not repurpose it?
There are dozens of incredible Android and iOS apps that can transform your phone into a useful smart home fixture, as well as a myriad of low-cost “accessories” that can add extra functionality to your device. Below you’ll find a quick roundup of the best ones around.
Manything is a free iOS app that can convert your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad into a Wi-Fi-connected security camera. Then, you can use a second iOS device as your mobile monitor or opt to keep an eye on things from the Manything web app. But it’s more than just a security camera; it’s also got its own IFTTT channel, so you can link it to a huge range of web services and connected devices. For example, if you’ve got Philips Hue lights in your house, you could set them to turn on automatically whenever Manything detects motion — making your phone act as both a motion-activated smart switch and a handy home-security tool that makes it look like someone’s at home.
Much like Manything, Salient Eye turns your phone or tablet into a network-connected security cam; the only big difference is that it works with Android devices instead of Apple ones (though an iOS version is in the works). It’s completely free to download and use, and it comes with a boatload of useful features, such as auto-capture on motion detection, email and text alerts, a sound alarm, and a decent chunk of free online storage space. The best part? It works with any phone running Android 2.2 or higher, so no matter how old your brick might be, it’ll still be able to run the app. Just don’t expect crisp, 1080p video playback from your first-gen Samsung Galaxy.
For a one-time price of just seven bucks, Dormi will take any Android phone or tablet running Gingerbread version 3.2 or greater and put its internet connectivity and advanced video and audio sensors to good use. Once you’ve got it installed, you just plug the device into the wall and let it run like a regular baby monitor. From there, you can use your primary phone to monitor audio or video at any point, or simply configure the app to send you automatic alerts when your baby wakes up. It constantly senses ambient noise in a given room, so as soon as your little monst — err, bundle of joy — wakes up and starts crying, you’ll know.
Cloud Baby Monitor
This app gives you high-quality video and unlimited range through Wi-Fi, 3G, or LTE. This app is extremely versatile, and it functions as a home security camera or a baby monitor. It is capable of alerting you to noises or motion, and for your baby, it can play a lullaby or just white noise to help them sleep. You can use it to talk to your baby remotely, and it is compatible with the Apple Watch, so you can get motion or noise alerts right on your wrist. If you work on a Mac, then you can also install it on your Mac and monitor your home as you work.
This app offers high quality home monitoring video together with motion alerts that you can use for anything you might want to monitor in your home — or anywhere else. It also offers 2-way video calling, so that you can talk to your baby or your loved ones. Presence also comes with 50MB of free cloud storage. If you pay $5 per month to upgrade to Presence Pro video, which is currently only available in the iOS version, you’ll get 5GB of cloud storage and advanced motion detection features. Add Presence Security sensors, which start from $35, to your house and you can build a complete security system. Check out their website to find out more.