Using an iPhone or iPad as a CCTV Camera

With the right app, an iPhone or iPad can make an effective security camera that provides standard RTSP video/audio feeds. This is especially useful for older iOS devices that would otherwise be unused, making for an easy and inexpensive way to add an extra camera to your video surveillance system built around our macOS NVR software SecuritySpy.

In order for an iOS device to be used for video surveillance, it should be powered all the time and set to never sleep. Such a device should never be used for a critical CCTV purpose, since things like power outages or app/devices crashes may require manual intervention to put right. This can be mitigated somewhat with Apple’s Guided Access or Single App features.

The following apps have been tested and confirmed to work well with SecuritySpy for H.264 RTSP streaming, delivering high-quality and efficient video/audio streams to SecuritySpy.

These app display the IP address of the device, which you can use in SecuritySpy as the device address, however note that these IP addresses can change from time to time. The solution for this is to either set the device to a reserved IP address in your router’s DHCP settings, or use Bonjour addressing. The device’s Bonjour address is derived from the device name shown under Settings > General > About > Name; for example, if the device name is CCTV iPhone then the Bonjour address will be cctv-iphone.local.

Live-Reporter Live Camera

This is a simple app that works well to deliver live H.264 video and AAC audio over RTSP. The quality and performance are good, with some adjustments available for video resolution, frame rate, and video encoding quality.

The main limitation is that the maximum resolution is 1920×1080, which is significantly lower than the actual camera resolutions on modern iPhones and iPads.

Setup notes:

  • Use the profile in SecuritySpy called Live-Reporter iOS app
  • Turn off the B-frames option in the app’s settings

IP Camera Lite / IP Camera Pro

This app also effectively delivers H.264 video and AAC audio over RTSP, and has some additional features over Live-Reporter, including a multi-cam view, with one camera (e.g. the front camera on the device) shown in-picture in the corner of a full view of the other camera (e.g. the back camera). This app also supports resolutions higher than 1920×1080. The Lite version shows an overlay across the video image that includes the app name.

Setup notes:

  • Use the profile in SecuritySpy called IP Camera Lite/Pro iOS app
  • Specify both the username and password as admin
  • When you first open the app, you have to manually tap the option to Turn on IP Camera Server – this extra step is unfortunate, and will prevent the app from starting up automatically when using Guided Access/Single App mode
  • Make sure the RTSP option is enabled when you tap the gear icon at the bottom of the Server screen in the app

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