Mobile Devices

Details on the five major steps to configure and deploy Blue Iris.
1. Connecting IP cameras.
2. Configuring your home or office network for Remote Access via a web browser or the phone apps.
3. Setting up Storage and Recordings.
4. Creating Triggers and Alerts.
5. Creating Schedules and Profiles
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Joined: Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:52 pm

Mobile Devices

Post by varghesesa » Tue Apr 06, 2021 12:13 am

This article walks you through connecting your iOS/Android devices (phones, tablets) to your Blue Iris server. It walks through all the dependencies and potential pitfalls when trying to setup your device.

If you prefer to watch the webinar associated with this article, checkout our YouTube channel. Webinar name: Mobile Devices and Apps.

If you are on an Android device, the Android gotchas article also has information the may help you self-correct the issue.

Windows and Blue Iris
There is no way for the BI server to communicate with your LAN devices unless Windows settings are not in conflict with your BI server. The Windows System Tuning article will walk you through all the checks.

There is no way for the mobile app to communicate with the Blue Iris server unless you setup your network to do so. Push notifications to iOS or Android phones will not work either since BI cannot talk with the Apple and Android servers.

Basic tests:
  • Connect your phone to your home wifi.
    Open a web browser and go to your BI web server. Does the login page appear?
    If not, your BI server is not setup correctly.
    Run through the Windows Tuning article just to make sure Windows is not in conflict with BI.
    Run through the Remote Access Wizard and try to see if BI can identify the cause.
  • Turn off Wifi, i.e. connect to your cellular network. Can the browser on your phone still connect to the login page?
    If not, your router or network is not setup so devices outside can communicate with your BI web server.
    The Remote Access Wizard walks you through the steps to setup your network. The Remote Access webinar guides you through the process.
    • Most users are using NGROK (ddns) these days since it's easier. The NGROK section in the Help file provides details.
    • Tech saavy folks still use port forwarding. In the webinar, I walk through port forwarding via an AT&T Pace gateway device. Setting up your specific router/gateway is beyond BI support.
    Documentation to setup NGROK. See BI Help file.
    SSL connections with https (STunnel). See BI Help file.
  • Login to the web interface from the phone while on your cellular network. Now you have the critical pieces of information to connect your mobile app
    • You can be confident your network is setup correctly.
    • You know the IP address / Port number to access BI server if you implemented port forwarding.
      OR you know the URL to access the BI server if using NGROK or alternative DDNS solution.
    • You confirmed a Username / Password to access the web server is valid.

Checkpoint: Windows is setup correctly. The network is setup correctly.

Phone settings
First try connecting through the LAN, i.e. Wi-Fi connection. Then turn off the Wi-Fi connection and try connecting via the cellular network, i.e. WAN address.

Easiest way to setup your phone settings to connect and work well with the BI App is to use the Wizard within the Add New Server function.
FYI, the BI Mobile App can connect to multiple servers.

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The iOS Server Setup Wizard (helps configure iOS device settings)

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The Android Server Setup Wizard (helps configure iOS device settings)
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The final step is to Scan the QR Code. Where is the QR Code?
The QR Code is located in one of the last pages in the Remote Access Wizard. (see below)
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The Server Manual Setup

FYI, you can choose to bypass the Server Wizard and go directly to setup page. Keep in mind the setup page only connects the mobile app to the BI server. You will still need to go through the iOS app settings to provide the right user experience.

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BI Server activation
You also need to enable Push notifications from the BI server. In Global settings -> Mobile devices, make sure Push is enabled for all the appropriate devices.

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LAN test: At this point, test / confirm the mobile app can connect to the server
Connect your phone to the wifi network associated with your BI server. Can you connect to the server?
If so, great! You have confirmed your mobile device has access to your BI server and you have confirmed at least some of the network requirements have been met like the BI web server is running and accessible from the LAN.

If not successful conduct following checks:
  • Confirm web server is up and running. From a web browser on the mobile device on the LAN, go to the ip address:port and confirm the login page comes page. Default port is 81.
  • Confirm login to web portal.
  • Double check mobile app server settings
    • Confirm license key is correct
    • Confirm LAN address is correct
    • Confirm username/password is same as credentials used to login to web interface.
  • Confirm mobile device is listed in BI server. Global settings -> Mobile devices
WAN test: Now you can test the internet connection is setup correctly.
  • Disconnect mobile phone from LAN/Wifi, i.e. use your cellular network.
  • Repeat steps above for LAN testing. Confirm WAN address is correct (not LAN)
  • If a problem, something is still wrong with the network setup. Need to again review Remote Access Wizard.

BI Mobile App Settings (~ Global Settings)

Most of the setting descriptions are intuitive or can be understood by simply turning them on/off. Below I highlight the ones that raise tickets and cause confusion.
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Camera settings

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  • Schedule : Camera settings -> Schedule -> Override global schedule for this camera
  • PTZ preset cycle : Auto-cycle patrol
  • PTZ event schedule : Camera settings -> Schedule -> Event schedule
  • DIO output 1 : Turn first output to on/off

What are the blue badges on my alerts?

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Mobile App Gotchas

Gotcha 1: My alerts stopped.

Update to the latest version of the app and the BI server to see if issue still persists. Features/functionality on the mobile app are not guaranteed to run with older versions of the server.
Revisit the Phone settings section above to make sure mobile app is configured correctly.
  • Confirm alerts are being sent from server.
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    Furthermore, confirm the Alert is sent soon after BI senses Motion. The gap between the MOTION event and the Alert should not be more than 1-2s.
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    If you are only sending one type of alert, e.g. a push notification, create an SMS and/or email alert to try and isolate the issue. Do they work? Then you know it's a particular alert causing issues.
    If the others do not work either, then you know something is wrong with your server or your network setup. Double check your network based on Networking section above.
  • If Alerts are not being sent, something went wrong from Cameras -> BI Trigger settings -> Alert settings
    1. Are the cameras working? See Camera Stream Optimization article.
    2. Are you still receiving motion triggers? The Alerts tab in the Clips List will tell you! If not, there is a problem with the Trigger tab.
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    3. If the motion trigger is present, there is a problem with the Alerts tab.
      If you do not know how to debug alerts, watch the Triggers and Alerts webinar. The information is also available in the Alerts and Actions section of Help (Testing the Action Set).
  • If Alerts are being sent (confirmed in Status -> Log), but the phone is not receiving alerts or processing alerts.

    Double check the Phone settings section above.
    Double check your network settings by running through network tests in the Networking section above.

    If still not resolved, now we need to include mobile app info to the ticket for BI engineering to review. See Next steps / Submitting a ticket section below.

Gotcha 2: Recent alerts no longer show up.

As always, first update the server software to latest version. Install latest mobile app if one exists and restart the app. See if the problem goes away. (The fix for example below was a server update)

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Break down issue into components:
  • First, confirm an alert occurred on the camera that is more recent than the one listed. From the console, the Alerts list on the clips list will show the most recent motion trigger. You will need to look in the logs to confirm an alert was sent. See Gotcha 1 for details.
  • In console -> right click in clip list -> Database->Repair/regenerate. Restart mobile app. Do the recent alerts update?
  • If you go to the Alerts tab, do you see the most recent alert for that camera? (Include info with ticket)
  • See if you can find the alert manually. Go to the camera view of the problem camera -> select the date when the last alert was sent (as determined in previous step) and see if the alert search brings up the alert. (Include info with ticket)
  • If still not resolved, now we need to include mobile app info to the ticket for BI engineering to review. See Next steps / Submitting a ticket section below.

Gotcha 3: I get the push notification with no image.
The way the 3D images work is with a "call back" to the PC to retrieve the image. You must be able to connect to the server and be able to login to the app at the time this happens.
  • When you don't get the image, are you able to login with the app?
  • Update to the latest version of the app and the BI server to see if issue still persists. Features/functionality on the mobile app are not guaranteed to run with older versions of the server.
  • Does the thumbnail appear when on the WAN or LAN?
    WAN: The network setup is critical to getting the apps working on the WAN. Double check your network setup and try to determine why thumbnails no longer work. The Networking section above has details.
    LAN: If the issue resides with the LAN, see anecdotes below to help troubleshoot your network.
    Both: If you can never get thumbnails, then the network setup is not correct. Follow same steps as stated for the WAN.
  • If still cannot resolve the issue, when the next Push notification goes out, wait 30s, then go to Next steps / Submitting a ticket section below to submit a ticket.
Customer Anecdotes (all network configuration issues)
Maybe triggers ideas as to what is wrong with your network setup.

Anecdotal 1:
Issue from a user where Push notifications worked on the WAN but not the LAN.
  • User switched to dynamic DNS (e.g. NGROK) from port forwarding. Changed mobile app WAN server settings accordingly.
  • Modified his local dns server to map the dynamic dns hostname to the internal IP. This user had a DNS server, perhaps company deployment. Most homeowners do not.
  • BI Server was not using the LAN interface associated with above DNS server, so ddns URL was not being resolved to correct IP address. (oops)
The above is complicated for the average user and I doubt many have a local dns server.

Anecdotal 2:
It was a local IP issue. My WiFi LAN router assigned somehow assisted devices on the WiFi network a 192.156.**.*** oddly it assigned things plugged in via cable a 10.0.0.***. It was acting like a double NAT inside the same router/WiFi box. Oddly it had separated the WiFi and wired connections on separate LANs.

I put the WiFi side into bridge mode and let only one side assign the IP addresses. This forced both the wired and wireless devices on to the same IP setup 10.0.0.***. It took a few minutes for the network to rediscover everything. I rebooted everything.

Boom. It works.

Anecdotal 3: ZeroTier deployment
I think that I have the issue with the thumbnails resolved. I use ZeroTier to remote connect my devices together when away from home. It sets up a virtual networking adapter on the PC. I had the BI web server set to use that adapter, which worked great but seems to be preventing the thumbnails from working. I have the WAN IP set to the ZeroTier IP. In the past that was the only way I could get it to connect when both at home and travelling. When I switched BI back to the default adapter and restarted I started getting thumbnails again. Not sure if or what has changed. I tested it on cellular using the ZeroTier service and I also got thumbnails. Hopefully this will still work when I travel.

What's confusing is that I was able to log in from the app with either adapter set just fine. But somehow it makes the thumbnails stop working. I've attached the app debug with both settings in case that helps you.

The delayed push notifications also seems to be resolved for now. I won't know for sure until I've had a few days. It was seeming to be reasonably quick when I directly tested it but then start to get slow after time. Hopefully it was related to the above issue. But if it returns I will let you know.

Gotcha 4: Long delay before alerts received on mobile device.
  • Walk through Windows Tuning article to make sure BI is not in conflict with Windows.
  • Gotcha 1 explains how to examine the Status->Log to determine how fast the server is processing Motion trigger -> Alerts.
  • If the log shows Success, yet the alert is not received, Blue Iris received a successful "handoff" to Google/Apple. It's then up to Google/Apple for the "last mile."
  • Unfortunately, your Cellular and ISP service provider and/or Google/Apple controls how fast alerts are received.

Gotcha 5: PTZ Controls are greyed out.
  • There is no such thing as PTZ controls when viewing a group of cameras, i.e. group view.
  • Camera settings -> PTZ tab. Enable Pan/Tilt/Zoom etc. checkbox has to be selected.
  • Global settings -> Users tab. The user using the app has to have PTZ privileges. PTZ/Control has to be checked.

Gotcha 6: Recent alerts are blank.

First make sure you did not accidentally delete the alert yourself in the app as seen below. (two scenarios)

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The other possibility is only confirmed alerts appear on the mobile app. The most common reason for a cancelled alert is Artificial Intelligence (DeepStack or Sentry AI) cancelled it. If recent alerts never gets populated, that implies those cameras never sent alerts.
Revisit the Camera settings -> Alerts tab. A common mistake is Motion A is not enabled.
Gotcha 1 walks through tracing your server settings to confirm Cameras -> BI Trigger settings -> Alert settings are correct.

Gotcha 7: Playback is not smooth. Live view is choppy or crashing.

The issue here is if you bring up a browser on your phone and go to the BI web interface, playback and live view work fine. When doing the same through the app, the streaming is choppy, jittery etc. This issue pops up more frequently with Android tablets.
  • Test 1: Need to make sure live stream and playback are first smooth on the BI Server. Garbage in = Garbage out.
  • Test 2: If you open a browser on the phone/tablet and go to the BI web interface (UI3), are the live view and playback a good experience. If so, then you know the problem is not with the network.
If you are still reading, then the problem probably means the player used by your device cannot handle the incoming stream well. The short answer is to go to Global settings -> Web server -> Advanced -> Encoder profiles (Choose Streaming 0 or 1) -> Configure dialog. Use the below settings to start and see if they work.

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I highlighted the values I changed from the default settings:
  • First, I turned on Constant Bit Rate (CBR). This settings caps the amount of data going to the player at 1024 kbps.
  • Next, I reduced the resolution to 856 x 480. You are streaming to a mobile device, so reducing the resolution will probably have no affect on your viewing experience. I played with "Retain aspect ratio within frame". On iOS devices, the setting seemed fine. But I noticed instability and crashes on some Android devices. It does not really change/help the user experience, so my conclusion was to just leave it off unless required for another reason.
Reference: If you want a deeper understanding of the settings in the encoder dialog or how encoding generally works, a great reference article was created by IPVM titled "H.264 vs MJPEG - Quality and Bandwidth Tested". If you are not familiar with IPVM, they are a great resource for research and information regarding surveillance and security cameras.

So how did I choose the values for the bit rate and resolution?

I cheated and used the expertise of the BI development team! If you click on the gear icon in UI3 (lower right), you can select any predefined resolution and hit the pencil button up top. You then see the encoding settings for the selected resolution. I just copied those values into the encoder dialog on the console.

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Once I made the stream adjustments, I went to the mobile app settings and chose the appropriate settings for my LAN and WAN connections.
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Gotcha 8: Cannot playback alerts or clips.

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Issue: If you are recording Direct to Disk (D2D) and the key frame interval is sub-par, e.g. <1, then it is possible the file is open for recording, but no key frames have actually been recorded yet so BI cannot playback.

  • Check the key frame interval in the Status -> Camera tab.
  • If the key frame interval is <1, go to your camera settings (not in Blue Iris) and raise the key frame interval. The Camera Stream Optimization article has details.

Gotcha 9: Live video distorted.

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Encoding from BI is too complicated for your mobile device.
Fix: Global settings -> Web server tab -> Advanced -> Configure.
  • Set quality to 50%.
  • In the Advanced section, change Profile to main.

Gotcha 10: Camera streams no longer appear.

First check if the network is still setup correctly. Easiest way to do so is from your mobile device, in a browser, can you login to the web interface. If so, then the network is setup correctly. If not, you need review the network case below and/or go through the Remote Access Wizard to figure out the network issue. The Remote Access Webinar walks through the Wizard steps.

If the network is fine, your server settings are not correct. Logout and use the lookup key to reset your network settings. See The Server Manual Setup section above.

Gotcha 11: Network is setup using port forwarding. Router restarted/replaced by own volition or power outage occurred

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The above diagram was used used in the Remote Access Webinar to explain port forwarding. If the above is confusing, first review the webinar which is based on the Remote Access section of the BI Help file. The Help file with the webinar is a good start to understanding Remote Access.

Based on diagram, the ISP provider originally assigned as your WAN address. Based on diagram, the router assigned the BI Server as the LAN address.

After the router restart:
  • ISP could have assigned a new WAN address. ->
    Consequence: Mobile devices will no longer be able to connect to the BI server from the WAN.
    Fix: Logout of BI Mobile App -> Edit -> Lookup key. You should observe the WAN address update.

    This will only work if Global settings -> Web server tab -> Refresh external IP at startup and again every xxx is checked.
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    For Commercial accounts where the ISP provides permanent IP Addresses, this feature can be unchecked. For some home owners, they can test restarting their router and observe whether the same WAN address is reassigned. While not guaranteed, if the same WAN address is frequently reassigned, then perhaps this feature can be left unchecked as well.
  • Router could have assigned BI a new IP address. ->
    Consequence: The router's port forwarding is broken.
    Fix: Update the router's port forwarding to the new IP address. Also change the router setting to provide a Static IP Address to the BI server so it never changes again to prevent future issues.

Next steps / Submitting a Ticket

Bad ticket: Unfortunately something happened and I’m unable to receive alerts, or view my cameras on my phone. I have an iPhone, yes all settings on the phone are in the on position. Please let me know what my next step is.

How would anyone know what the issue is? Furthermore, a very long, winded email describing the issue is also not good. It's very hard to follow what is going on.

So the ticket needs the following sections:

Description: Concise description of issue. 1-2 lines. Bullet format always preferred.

Steps to reproduce the issue: Isolating the issue is key to either self-correcting the problem or reporting an issue. This section could be as simple as "I open the Alerts tab (lighting bolt) and no alerts appear". This section may be unnecessary if the description includes this information.

Summary Info: This section is also important. In many of the Gotchas above we list follow-up questions, e.g. run through the network tests in the Networking section. Listing the results here is important so we do not need to ask you again.

Again bulleted format is ideal.
  • Phone connects to server via mobile browser on LAN and WAN.
  • Alert playback works fine from the web interface but black screen only from the mobile app.
  • etc
Info from mobile app:
It's not possible to trouble-shoot until we know what versions of the software are running (server & app), the make/model of the phone and the debug logs.
  1. Go through steps to reproduce the issue.
  2. After the issue occurs, send the debug log to yourself. ? -> Debug log. The debug log will provide error details, if any.
    Create/Reply to the support ticket by attaching the body of the debug email to the support ticket thread you already opened. This way the debug info is attached to the same support thread. Ideally a file attachment is preferred over copy/paste into the email thread because of the length of debug log.
  3. For iOS users only: Send a ticket from the mobile app. ?-> Send feedback to Support as well. This will clarify the software version you are currently running. The Android app already provides the support info with the debug log. iOS will do so shortly. In the interim, send the feedback email to YOURSELF, not support. Once you receive the email, similar to above, copy / paste body as a reply to the support email so all the information remains together.
Optional video: If hard to describe, a video exhibiting the problem is ideal. Most users place the video in cloud storage like Google drive for download if it's too large to send via email. Optional temp login: A temporary login to reproduce the issue from our end is always helpful. For privacy reasons, many users set the account to only have access to one or two public facing cameras such as the front door / driveway.
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