Hands-on with Homeboy, the simple app-powered security camera

Being able to access a video feed from your phone is a big deal, but how users get that feed is a topic of dispute most days. Some prefer letting a third party handle all of the heavy lifting in the cloud, while others prefer handling all of the software on their own to avoid added costs or sharing personal data. Homeboy is a security camera focusing on the former, with an app that pulls video into their servers for the users to quickly access from anywhere.

Unlike other cloud-based security cameras, the software isn't what makes Homeboy interesting.

If you live in an apartment with strict rules about the walls, or your home is set up in such a way that powered cameras come with complications, you know installing security cameras come with a unique set of challenges. Sometimes the included power cable is insufficiently long or difficult to hide well, while other times the bulk of the camera means you have to mount it into the wall or ceiling in ways that don't always work for every living arrangement. Homeboy focuses on making the installation simple.

The mounting plate is a small plastic plate with a magnet on the inside, and a piece of adhesive tape on the bottom. You peel the adhesive, stick the plate where you want, and installation is complete. You angle the camera orb to the position you want to capture, and the metal side of the orb will do its thing on the magnetic plate. That's it, the installation is complete due to the way Homeboy is designed to function almost entirely on battery. You charge the orb for about an hour once a week via microUSB, and stick it back when you're done.

The camera itself is fairly simple, but checks all the right boxes for monitoring a small space. It's a 640x480 resolution capture with night vision lighting, motion sensing, and a speaker in the back. It's clearly not the most capable camera on the market, but Homeboy also makes it clear that's not the point of this system. The biggest features are how small and light it is, making it easy to mount anywhere and function as a sort of stand-alone security system for an apartment or small office.

Homeboy Android app

The Homeboy app is where you do everything with this camera. Since it's not an active monitoring app, where you can tap into a live video feed whenever you want, there's two main options here. You can request a video clip whenever you want from wherever you are, and get a quick 5-30 second glimpse at what is going on at home, or you can "arm" the security system and let things happen automatically. When armed, the motion sensor is constantly active and a video clip is recorded when the sensor is tripped. You can also set an alarm to sound from the speaker when that sensor is tripped, as well as send a notification to your phone.

Homeboy also has group functionality, if you're using the camera in an office and want multiple people to have access. There's a basic chat function built in for multiple users to keep an eye on the security system, and you can set who gets notified and where when the sensor is tripped. On top of this, Homeboy works with IFTTT to allow for some basic location-based auto arming to help the system feel a little smarter.

Ultimately, Homeboy is a basic app-powered camera with some clever design for very specific kinds of users. At $189, this camera really doesn't compete with much of anything. It's nowhere near as capable as Nest Cam when it comes to image quality and software functionality, and while the web-based software for Homeboy is free there's still no way to handle local-only recording. This system feels ideal for apartments and small offices, with limited hardware arrangements, and it's great to see Homeboy trying something new in this cluttered connected camera space.

Russell Holly

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter