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Daily Mac App: AirBeam

If you have an iPhone and iPad or Mac, you can set up an indoor surveillance system. All you need to get it going is AirBeam, which is software that turns your iPhone into a spy cam and your Mac desktop into a remote viewing station. Setup is simple -- just install AirBeam on all your hardware and the software will do the rest.

There's a universal iOS version for your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch and a desktop version that'll run on your Mac. The desktop version is the viewer which will let you watch video and listen to audio streamed from your iOS device(s). You'll need a camera-enabled device if you want video; otherwise, you will only receive audio stream. Once you fire up the software on all your iOS devices, the desktop software will automatically detect their streams. You can watch one stream or multiple streams at the same time. The app keeps the iOS device running so you will have a stream as long as you have battery power.

No worries if you don't have a Mac, as the iOS version of the software can work as a monitor, too. This handy feature lets you use your iPhone/iPod touch as a camera and your iPad as the monitor (or vice versa). This is perfect if you have a little one napping upstairs and you want to watch him or her while you're sitting at your desk. The only catch with this setup is that the iOS devices and the Mac must be on the same Wi-Fi network.

AirBeam is more than just a novelty; it's sophisticated surveillance software that'll let you set up a motion alarm, an audio alarm and even off-network monitoring so you can monitor your house while you're out running errands. You'll have to know your external IP (the one assigned to your modem) and set up port forwarding on the router for this remote viewing to work. AirBeam also has a recording feature that'll capture up to 30 seconds of video when the software detects motion or sound. You can watch that video remotely using the IP address and port assigned by the AirBeam software. Though you can't pan the remote iOS device, you can toggle both the LED and the camera on and off.

In my time using AirBeam, the software's performance was flawless and provided a far better experience than any remote camera I've owned. There was zero configuration, and the video quality was excellent. The only surveillance camera feature I missed was movement. Most security cameras include a swiveling mount which lets you control the position of the camera. You lose that control with AirBeam, but you get almost every other surveillance feature at a fraction of the cost of a dedicated camera. You can grab the Mac version of AirBeam for free, while the iOS version will cost you US$3.99.

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