How to use your phone as a webcam

“Why would anyone want to use their phone as a webcam?” This was the most common reaction people had when we told them what we were trying to do, but there are actually some pretty good reasons to do this.

For one, you can turn an old handset into a security camera or baby monitor which you can use without buying a brand new standalone camera. And if your handset doesn’t have a front facing camera, or if your PC doesn’t have a webcam built in, then you can use the rear camera on the phone for video calls.

It is obviously easier to buy a dedicated camera, but if you don’t want to buy a brand new webcam, or want to find a good use for your old phone instead of selling it, then setting it up like this is a nice idea. Here’s how to set it up.

Security camera

One of the ways in which you can use an old phone is by setting it up as a security camera or a baby monitor. This is pretty easy to do with the right apps for both Android phones and iPhones. This is how you set it up:

Android

A quick search on Google Play throws up several webcam applications. We tried 5 of the top 10 results, but most didn’t work properly. From the ones that didn’t crash repeatedly, SmartCam failed to show the video, and DroidCam needs you to install an app on Windows to work.

IP Webcam is easily the best of the lot because it works through your browser, which gives it the cross-platform compatibility.

To set up a security camera on Android, follow these steps.

1. Connect your computer and the phone to the same Wi-Fi network.

2. Install the IP Webcam app on your smartphone.

3. Close all other camera apps. Force close them from the app switcher before you proceed.

4. Launch the IP Webcam app. Scroll to the bottom and tap Start server.

5. The app will now fire up your phone’s camera and display a URL. Our URL was http://172.32.15.110:8080.

6. Enter this URL in any browser on your computer and hit Enter.

7. In the browser, you’ll see a drop down menu next to Video renderer. Select Browser.

8. Below that, you’ll see Audio renderer. Select HTML wav.

Now you’ll see a live video feed in your browser. You can also record this footage via the browser. To do this, just press the red Record button under the video. This saves the footage as an MP4.There will be a slight lag if you enable HTML wav audio in the browser. You can select the Flash option (doesn’t work on all computers) or open the same URL in VLC Media Player

9. To do this, first download and install VLC from this website. Then in VLC, go to Media > Network Stream and enter the URL from the app as seen in step 5.

Once the app is running, you don’t need to keep your phone’s screen on. It works even when the phone is locked, but the video feed is slightly smoother when the screen is on.

Android

Here’s how to set up your Android smartphone as a webcam. IP Webcam does not work with Skype, so you’ll need to install DroidCam and its PC client for this to work:

1. Install DroidCam Wireless Webcam on your phone.

2. Download and install the DroidCam client on your computer. Both the phone and the computer should be on the same Wi-Fi network.

3. Open the Android app and note down the Wifi IP listed on the main screen.

4. Open the Windows client and paste the IP on the computer.

5. If you have a slow Internet connection, pick Low from the Video Quality drop-down menu.

6. Click Start.

7. Now you’ll see video from the phone on the DroidCam Windows app. This works even if your phone is locked, but the video stutters. For optimal performance, we recommend that you keep the Android app open and turn off auto-lock on the phone.

8. Restart Skype (if it is open) and select DroidCam Source 1 as the webcam (explained after the iPhone section).

9. Now you can use your Android phone as the webcam.

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