Homekit security cameras

I feel like Apple has come a ways since this was last discussed, and i am considering moving away from the Synology surveillance station setup I could never get to stabilize.

I was wondering if anyone has any experience with homekit-ready cameras to monitor the house while I’m away? I’d be interested in hearing about the setup, hardware and overall experience.

Anyone have anything on the go?

I’ve had a Logitech Circle 2 for the last couple of years and have been happy with it. Setup was simple, the hardware is reliable (sits on my garage door window in -30 degree F temps just fine).

I don’t pay for their subscription and haven’t set up the Apple camera monitoring yet. The camera does the job, though, notifies me of activity, and there haven’t been any ridiculous privacy concerns with it to date.

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Thank you. Just the kind of review I was hoping for. :slight_smile: The Circle camera is the one that’s unofficially endorsed by Apple as it’s available through their store, so I assume it’d work well with the iCloud service. Pretty pricey, but honestly, paying for a camera and having it not work is worse than paying twice as much for one that does.

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We got a circle 2 specifically because it has HomeKit secure video support. We had to get the first replaced because of a WiFi fault that is apparently fairly common on the circle 2.

Setup is easy. It’s even easier once you convert to HSV, as you can then add it like any other HomeKit accessory. Scan the code and you’re basically done.

We do get false positives on the person/animal recognition. A road runs behind us and I guess the cement trucks on their way to the commercial port look like animals somehow haha.

Do your initial setup in the Circle app, because it’s easier than HomeKit first then circle. The conversion to HSV totally removes any ability for the camera to interact with the circle service or the circle app. It is reversible, but it’s non-trivial. Consider HSV a commitment.

If you ever need to reset the camera once it’s converted, you hold the reset button until you get a red light and then you can just add it to HomeKit again the usual way.

Evehome are about to launch a HSV exclusive camera that uses Bluetooth instead of WiFi which is even more secure.

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Thank you very much for talking the time to write out this review for me. Good to know all of that. I’ll probably wind up going this way, although the eve camera sounds intriguing. I don’t know how long it’ll take to get to where I am, but the wait might be worth it–even to see if it may be a little less pricey.

My first run at it was pretty rough: https://512pixels.net/2019/11/homekit-secure-video-is-buggy-and-frustrating/

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Well, that’s a little discouraging. I’d hoped it would be better by now. Maybe if I wait to see what Eve does in the spring, it will improve a little. Failing that, I might take another run at keeping my surveillance station camera happy. I couldn’t ever get it to behave like I want, but I have a feeling that could be PEBKAC more than anything amiss with the hardware. :neutral_face:

Thankfully we haven’t had any of the issues experienced by @ismh but clearly the potential is there.

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If price is important, use Wyze Cameras. For $25, their video quality rivals that of cameras costing hundreds of dollars.

They can record to a micro SD card in the camera, so even more privacy than sending to any cloud, even iCloud.

At $25, they are impulse buys / throwaways. You can add cameras to do fun things that you would never buy a “real” camera for:

Put one in the garage to see if the garage door is open or shut - safer than a garage door opener that can be hacked give that the biggest need is to confirm the door is shut after you’ve driven away and half way to work.

Put one in the laundry room to see when the washing machine or clothes dryer is done. Aim at the control panel/display!

Put one next to a printer that is in another room so you can see if the printout is done or paper jammed without walking over to it (“first world” fun)

Many people use them outside anyway because when/if they break, just recycle and replace. (Amazon also has lots of cases/enclousures - some that look like tiny bird houses.)

OTOH, if you want serious security camera solution, then I can’t recommend Apple HomeKit. Both the current “HomeKit compatible” cameras have severe limitations and the new “HomeKit Secure Video” is very raw. It is buggy, feature limited, and unreliable. Total embarrassment that Apple could release such a limited and unfinished product.

There are many security cameras with iOS and Mac support (native apps) with a range of capability and price. - Just not HomeKit compatibility.

Be really in love with Apple if you want to reduce all your choices to the lowest-common-denominator of capability provided by Apple HSV.

And the snail’s pace of HomeKit improvements (yearly cycle or longer) means improvements, even incremental, are not expected until the fall of 2020.

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I have the Logi Circle 2 using HomeKit Secure Video and have had a wonderful experience with them. I’ve been using them for about 18 months with one exposed to the elements 24/7 and have had no issues with them. I actually, just today, rebuilt my wireless network with a new SSID meaning that I had to do a factory reset on all of my devices. After switching the Logi Circle 2 firmware to support HomeKit Secure Video, the Logi Circle app will no longer function with these devices. Surprisingly, after properly resetting the cameras, they connected to HomeKit straight away without any issues. I can’t recommend the Logi Circle 2 highly enough.

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That’s good to hear! I should give it another run.

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I have a couple Wyze cams also. One outside shooting across my front yard in a little “bird house” type cover, which has attracted a couple frustrated birds. It’s also under my roof overhang which helps. It has survived the outdoors for 18 months now with no issues.

We just bought another one for our laundry room to keep an eye on the dog while we are out of the house. And talk to him if needed through the two way communication feature. Spent a total of $65 on both cameras, the cover and a longer USB cable.

I’ll probably buy another one at some point for the front door.

We also use the Wyze Sense contact sensors on our front and garage doors that will alert me if they are open for a certain # of minutes. Very handy for not much $$.

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Lots of good information here. Thank you, one and all.

I didn’t mention that I was hoping to avoid using anyone else’s cloud storage, and it looks like the Wyze cameras record to their own solution (although I don’t know enough to know if this can somehow be circumvented to disallow the camera from phoning home).

Ideally, I’d like a camera that simply saves to either the home network (via NAS-which is probably most secure, but still in-house, making it less than ideal for physical security–I’m thinking if someone breaks in and steals the NAS, well, that’s that) or iCloud (which may be better for keeping things offsite, but may also come with its own concerns as pointed out by @SpivR above).

I’m thinking I may take another run at the synology surveillance station solution. When I actually had it working for a week or so, it was pretty cool as it would send me a photo via email of the scene immediately and at programmed intervals when it detected motion, which is pretty cool. And the Wyze camera, assuming it can be lobotomized, apparently is compatible with the NAS. It could be the issue is just that I don’t have enough geek cred to get the NAS to do what I want. It seems nontrivial to me, anyway.

Thank you again for all the thoughts!

Just to add, if you want a completely local storage solution under your own control, then one of several NVR products (network video recorder) is ideal.

These can be commercial plug-and-play boxes, affordable software solutions where you provide the computer/box it is running on, or free/open source.

Way too much to go into full detail but TL;DR the best affordable software options are SecuritySpy for Mac and BlueIris for PC.

I prefer to avoid the Synology - it’s a good solution, but I want more flexibility. Any of the software-centric approaches can still use a NAS (any NAS) for storage, but the camera handling is best left to apps that only do that.

For commercial solutions, please stay away from the junk sold at Costco, Best Buy, et. al. They work, but very limited, terrible software, and some still use analog cameras or cheap digital cameras.

If you are able, the Wyze cams have a free optional firmware for RTSP that can be flashed by putting it on an SD Card and rebooting the camera. This makes the camera usable by any of these 3rd party NVR recording systems. (RTSP is an industry standard for video recording).

That plus firewall settings can convert the Wyze is a very decent local-only / local-NVR recording camera for much less than the $100 to $500 price of others.

For a plug-and-play box that is affordable, has really good software especially the iOS app, my favorite right now is Unifi Protect. The app is as good, or better than Ring or Nest (the industry standards) but all local storage and prosumer level features and security. Drawback is you must use their cameras - a real barrier in some cases, but avoids tons of compatibility problems overall.

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Bringing this thread back to life a bit after the WWDC announcement.

Currently, I have…
Ring Doorbell
Ring Floodlight Camera
1 indoor camera.

I have Unifi setup for my networking needs.

Debates

  • To get or not get Unifi Protect and going with their cameras.
  • Continue purchasing Ring cameras
  • Swap everything out and take advantage of HomeKit and all the upcoming OS updates.

However, if I do swap out everything…Any recommendations? I need to purchase overall at least 4 additional cameras to cover the perimeter of my home.

Thoughts?

I really wouldn’t trust Ring after the last 12 months.

We resisted any smart cameras until we could use one with HomeKit Secure Camera functionality. We won’t get a video doorbell until we can do the same there.

Cameras with microphones (and speakers) are a particularly significant security risk. I just won’t trust one from Amazon or Google owned companies.

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Which ones are you using?

We have a Logitech Circle 2.

Out of the box it connects to the Circle cloud. If you convert it to HomeKit Secure video it severs the link with Logitech and it can only communicate with your iCloud account.

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Really depends on what is most important to you. I’m still partial to Unifi Protect but…

FWIW, HomeKit updates overall at WWDC were very disappointing. The HomeKit Secure Video updates were also-ran limited implementation of features many other system already have (facial recognition and multiple alert zones).

The UI is very crude, looks like they had to sneak it in by grafting to existing iOS photo library. At least sure looks like nobody at Apple studied how Nest has done a great UI for facial recognition.

Since they will be busy just fixing bugs until release, it will be yet another year before we have a chance at decent HomeKit updates.

If one is Apple only by decree, I would suggest taking a look at the Eufy line of cameras. The indoor models are twice the resolution of Logitech (2K versus 1K) and HomeKit support in coming in July.

Since Eufy is another brand from Anker, the very well liked and reliable maker of power chargers and accessories, it is quite reputable. They have already shipped HomeKit support on other camera models so the risk is low, but always a risk buying on promise of future upgrades.

But the prices - under $50 is more than half the price of Logi Circle/Logi View and other HomeKit cameras.

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So, just to add my two cents here, since we started this thread, I have purchased the new Circle View camera. I decided I’d give the Apple ecosystem a try, and overall, I have to say that I’m happy. While the capabilities of the camera aren’t necessarily the best, the new enhancements coming in the fall bring it to the level where I need it to be for basic home use. I’ve been using it for a week now, and it’s rock solid, does not appear to have any kind of glitches and the setup was about as easy as I could imagine.

Downside is that the camera totally stinks at night if you point it through a window to monitor your front stoop, which I’ve done because I still can’t get past installing an expensive camera outside where it would be trivial to steal it. That said, it still picks up enough, and during the daylight hours, there’s no issue. I honestly want to get another one just to monitor the inside of the house, and with the HomeKit implementation, I could get another four and it’d still not cost more than the price of the hardware.

As soon as there’s an apple-centric doorbell solution that works with HomeKit I’ll see about getting that for the outside.