Right now there are three Android phones and four Android tablets within arm's reach of my desk, and another half dozen or so in my closet. (It's OK, I don't have a problem. This is my job.) If you're in a similar situation, you can put some of those gadgets to use: they work great as remotes for set-top boxes like Android TV or Roku, or you can cobble them together into a sort of poor man's Sonos multi-room speaker system. Here's one more option: turn it into a home security camera.


Perch isn't the only app that does this, but it looks like the most user-friendly on the Play Store at the moment. Install Perch on one of your spare phones or tablets, point it towards whatever you want to monitor, like the front door or a baby crib, then log into GetPerch.com. You can see a live video feed from your phone's camera and set up some smart settings, specifically the ability to assign a custom monitoring zone in a grid. When that zone changes, you'll get a notification on your phone and the time will be tagged in the recording. The phone will continue to record with the screen turned off to save battery, but of course you can just plug it in and make it semi-permanent.

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The service is free, but it's a bit rudimentary right now - you can't even log in with a Google account. That's not surprising, considering the app and service are in beta at the moment. But it's still surprisingly well thought-out; you can access multiple video streams from either the web or another phone, something that most dedicated home security systems don't offer yet. You can even "talk" through the phone to communicate with anyone in your home (or mess with your pets). Give it a try if you have a spare Android device that you need to put to use.

The app was not found in the store. :-(