VMS Mobile App Shootout - Avigilon, Dahua, Exacq, Genetec, Hikvision, Milestone

By Sean Patton, Published on Oct 01, 2018

Mobile VMS apps are a critical interface for the modern surveillance user.

But who does it best and worst?

We tested 6 manufacturers - Avigilon, Dahua, Exacq, Genetec, Hikvision, and Milestone to find out:

vms mobile apps shootout

We tested them across 11 categories rating each strong, average or poor, as the preview below shows:

Inside, we detail the full results including who won and lost and how the systems performed across each of the 11 categories, including 6 video screencasts, one for each manufacturer in the shootout:

Performance ********

*** **** ********, *********** rankings **** ******* **** 2 **** ** ********: Basic *** ******** ********.

***** ******** *** ******* as *** ****** ***** performed *** *** ******** of ************ *****. ***** consisted ** **** ** viewing **** *** ******** video, *****-****** *******, **** interface ****** *** *** ease ** ********* *********.

***** ** *** *****, Mobile *** ***** ******* performance ***** **** ***** groups:

  • **** **********:***** *** **** ********* Apps **** *** *** performers *******, ******* ******** in * *** ** the * **********. *******'* Security ****** ****** * was ****** ** * out ** * *** didn't ***** ****** ** any ********.
  • ******* ***********:***** **** ****** **** in * *** ** 5 *****, *** ****** in **** ** ******/******** which ******* ** ** Average. ******** *** **** strong ** * **********, and **** ** **** Interface ******.
  • ***** ***********:*******'* ****** ******** ****** Mobile * ****** ******** in **** ** ******* Live *****, *** ******* or **** ** * out ** *** *. Milestone ****** *** ******* in *** * ********** and *** *** ******* strongly ** *** ***** Feature ****.

******** ******** *** ******* as **** ****** ***** more ****** ******** ** Enterprise ************, *** ******** by ************ ******** ********* on * ***** *****. These ********* ** **** notifications, ******/******** ***** *********, exporting/bookmarking *******, *****, ****** quality ********, *** ****** control *******.

***** ** *** *****, Mobile *** ******** ******* performance ***** **** ***** groups:

  • **** **********:***** *** * *** performer ** ******** ******** as ****, ******* ******** in * *** ** 6 **********. ***** **** scored ******** ** * of *** * **********, but ****** ** *** remaining *. ***** ********* Mobile *** *** ** the ***** ****** ** Basic ********, **** ********* strongly ** **** ** the ********** *** **** poorly ** ***** *******.
  • ******* ***********:**** ********* **** ********* identically ** *** ******** Features *****, * ******, 2 ******* *** * poor *******. *******'* ****** Security ****** ****** * only ****** ******** ** 1 ******** *** ********* poorly ** ***** ******* and ****** / ********* Event *******.
  • ***** ***********:******** ********* ****** ** half *** **********, ******* many ******** ******** ** the ***** ****. *******'* Security ****** ****** * also ****** ****** ** 2 **********, *** ******* in *** ********* *.

**********, ******* **** ****** v5 **** *** **** advanced ******** **** *** upcoming **.* ******** ****** release.

Summary ** *******

**** ***** ***** *** full ******* *** **** Mobile *** ******* ********. Some ** *** ******** like "******** *******" *** "Ease ** ******* **** Video" ****** ******** **** most ****, ***** "****** Control *******" *** "******/******** Events" *** ******* ** poor ******* **** **** of *** **** ** the ****.

*** *** ***** ** the ***** ** ****** a ****** ****:

Key ***************

*** ********* * ****** were ***** **** ****** the **** ******** ******* manufacturers:

  • **** ********* ******: ***** *** ********** designs ******* ****** ***** and ***-******** ****** ******** allow ********** *** ******** everyday ***** ** ******** tasks ******* *** *********.
  • ****** / ********* ***** Support: ***** ****** *** analytic ***** ******** *** common ** *** ******* and *** ************* ****** investigation *****, **** *** not ****** ** ****** Apps. **** **** ** the **** ****** ******** any ****** ** ***** searching.
  • ********* / *********** *****: ***** **** ** download ***** ******** ** the ****** ******, ** bookmark *** ***** ************* and *********** ** * later **** ** ** important ******* *** * Mobile ***. **** ******** and ***** ** *** offer ********* ** ***********.
  • ***** *******: ***** ******* ** a ***** *******, *** while ******* *** ********* support ***-*** ***** ** their **** *** *******, they ** *** ******* any ***** ** ***** mobile ****.
  • ****** ******* *******:**** **** ** *** Apps ******* ****** ******* door *******, *** **** manufacturers **** ******* ** in ***** *** *******.

Criteria *** ******* ********

** *** ********* ******, we ****** **** ************'* Apps ******* ** **** criterion, ****** ******** ******** in **** *** ***** it ********* ******** ** poorly:

********

*****

*****

*******

*********

*********

Many **** ********* **********

**** **** ******** ** bad **** ******* *** likely ** ** ********* for ********** ***** *** for ******** *****, ** may *** ******, ********* on *** **** ** issues.

****** ***** *** *** a ******* *** ***** advanced *****, ******* **** learn ***** ********* *** through **********. ***** ******** users **** ** ******** more ** ******** *** actions, ****** **** *******, and ******* ********* ******/****.

Unlabeled / ********* *******

* ****** ******** ** unclear ******** *******, **** no **-*** **** *** user ******* **** ** find ******. ***** **** buttons, **** ** ********, layout, ** ***** **/*** are ***** *** *********, others *** ****** *** obvious ** ************* *****. Additionally, ******* **** ******* such ** *********, ***, etc., ******** ** ******** when ***** ******** *** not *********. *******, **** simply ** *******.

**** *** *** ******** of ***** ****** *******, typically ********* *** ******** with * *****-***-***** ****** icon. *******'* ****** ******** Center * **** ****** the ******** *** ******** buttons **** ****, ** eliminate *** ******** *********:

Hidden **** ******

*** ***** ******* ** poor **** ********* ****** found ** ******** *** Exacq ****** **** ** hidden ***** ********* * press-and-hold ****** ** *** video ****. ********'* *****-***-**** hidden **** *** **** not **********, *** ***** required *-* ******** ** bring ** *** **** / **** ***** ****:

Motion / ******** ****** *******

*** ****** *** ****** / ********* ****** *** based ** *** ***'* ability ** ****** *** motion ** ***** ******** events, *** **** ******** the **** ** ********* for ***** ***** ** date *** ****. ********, Dahua, *****, *** ********* performed ******, ********* ****** event ***** ** ****** from. *******'* ******** ****** Mobile * *** ******** an ******* ***** *** providing ****** *********** ** the ********, *** *** providing * **** ** results. *******'* ****** ******** Center * *** **** Hikvision **** ****** ****** because **** ** *** provide *** ****** ** analytic **** ** ******.

*** ******** ** ****** performers **** ***** *** Dahua, *** ***** ********* for ****** ** ***** events:

Exporting ******* *******

*** ****** *** ********* / *********** *** ***** on ** **** ******* to ****** ******** * video **** ******* ** the ***** ** ******** the ***** *** ***** downloading ** *** **** VMS ******. ****** **********, Dahua *** ********* ***** you ** ****** * video **** ******** ** the ****** ****** *** offline ******* *** *******. Both ** *******'* **** also ******** * ****** score ******* ********* *** be ******* **** ** while ******* ********, **** are *********** **** ** the ******* ********* ******. Milestone's ************* ******** ****** average ******* ***** **** can ** ******* *** reviewed ** *** ****** and *** *******, **** are *** ********* ** the **** ********* ***** Client. ******** *** ***** scored ****** ******* **** do *** ***** ********* or *********** *************.

** ******* ** * strong ********* *** *******'* Bookmarking ********:

***** *********'* ************* ******** performed ****, **** ****** average ******* *** ************* are **** ******** ** the ********* *** ****** and *** *** **** Smart ******.

Snapshots ****** *********

***** ***** *** *** a ******** *** ********* snapshots, *****, *****, *** both ********* **** *** a ******* ** *** app *** ******** (*******, deleting, *******) ********** ******** images. *** * **** received ******* ****** *** capable ** ********* *********, but *** **** ** leave *** *** ** view *** ***** ** the *****'* ******* ***** gallery.

** ******* ** * strong **** ****** ** Hikvision's ****-**** "******* & Video" ****:

Cloud ******** ************

******* ******** ***** ***** was *********** *************** *** Cloud *******. ***** ********** and ********* ******** ******* end ***** *** ******* to **** ***** ******* without ****** ** *** up ****-********** ** ******* a *** ******.

********* ****** *** ***-******* cloud ********** ******* **** both *** ***-******* *** iVMS-4500 ****, ***************** ******** ********* ****** in **************** ************ **** **********. While ***** **** ****** a *** ***** ********** function, *******, ** ** managed *** ****** ******. Unlike ***-*******, ** ** not ********** **** * central ******* *****, ***** device *********** *** *******.

**** ******* ***** ** the ******** **** ***** cloud ******** **** ***** offerings ************ ******* ******* ******** ****** Cloud *** **********, *** not **** ***** ******* VMS *********. ************* ***** ***** ** 2019*** ****** ****** ** their *******. ********* *** no ****** ***** ********* for ***** ****** ***.

Only ***-******* ******** *********** **************

* ******** ******* **** was **** ********* ** Hik-Connect *** *********** **************. This ** * ****** security ******* ******* ** some ******* *** ******* apps. *** ****** *** feature ** ******* ********** first, **** ** ******* you *** **** *********** to **** **:

Simultaneous **** *** ******** *** ******

* ******** ***** ** most *****, ******* **** and ******** ***** ** the **** **** *** only ***** ** ********* Mobile *** *******'* ******** Center ****** *. *******, in **** ****, *** are ******* ** ******* live *** ******** **** the **** ******, *** only ******* ****** ****** playback.

**** ** ** ******* of *********'* ***:

App ******** ******

  • ******** *** ****** * (2.2.4)
  • ***** **** **** (*.**.***)
  • *********** ***** ****** (*.*.*.******)
  • ******* ******** ****** ****** (5.0.902.3)
  • ******* *** ****** ****** (4.0.167.0)
  • ********* ***-******* (*.*.*)
  • ********* ****-**** (*.*.*)
  • ********* ****** **** ** (12.2)

Comments (44)

Sean, good work on this. It's a complex topic but one that IPVM can add value by analyzing and comparing.

Next up for VMS shootout is camera management, i.e., how easy to use, how much functionality is available for managing cameras (adding, editing, deleting, configuring, etc.).

And since the topic of other companies to include is popular (see VMS Export Shootout - Avigilon, Dahua, Exacq, Genetec, Hikvision, Milestone), let me address up front, we will be adding in Network Optix going forward. We did not originally since they are not anywhere near as big as these 6. However, given Hanwha's OEMing of Network Optix (as Wave) and Hanwha's continued growth, it is important to see how well or not Hanwha's VMS contrasts to these others.

That's right where I was going. Thanks John!

Nx needs an option for multi-camera view. Yes, they have live thumbnails, but it’s not really the same. They have a really good, single camera app, but that doesn’t compare well with Hikvision or Dahua apps that can show up to 16 cameras live. 

Spectacular work guys...

What security controls are in place? Which apps support 2FA / face ID and the such. It's pretty poor that some allow access without these measures when the target markets are GDPR /  ISO 27001 implementing businesses and corporates..

Customers keep asking me what 2FA does milestone have for example. I have to tell them to implement a VPN as a work around.

Milestone Mobile and Web Client have had two-factor authentication for a little while.

"...it is possible to apply a two-step verification process for users accessing the VMS system via the XProtect Web Client or the Milestone Mobile application. In addition to the normal username and password-based verification, with two-step verification the VMS system sends a random one-time code to the user via email or SMS. The user is only permitted access to the system if the correct one-time access code is provided."

Just curious what mobile platform you used to test Android or iOS i have found that there are often differences between the two for the same manufactures app. Also from an integrators perspective possibly a comparison of continuity between the apps on the different platforms. Explaining functionality over the phone, especially while on the run, to customers sometimes gets complicated when updates happen and their primary device isn't the same one you use on a daily basis. I have an iPad mini just for this situation but can often walk through every function blindfolded on an android device.

We used Samsung Galaxy devices (phone and 10" Tab), a Google Pixel 2XL, an iPhone X, and an iPad.

We did not see a ton of differences in the iOS and Android Apps, we did try to note the obvious differences (Genetec's Legacy Security Center 4 only supports multi-camera live streaming on the iPad version of the app, etc). 

I can't say with 100% certainty, but as an integrator, 5-6 years ago when I started implementing mobile apps at customer sites, the differential of capabilties and features was much greater between Android vs iOS, phone scaled apps vs tablet specific apps. I think that is reflected in the consumer app marketplace as well.

Great test.

I violently disagree with the high rating given to the Exacq Mobile App.  

You should really have a "new user" category in which you walk a typical customer (use your Mom?) through the setup over the phone.  I think you would find radically different results doing this.  

The Exacq mobile app is almost impossible to configure on the first try and almost always requires a phone call to set up.  HIK iVMS-4500 on the other hand requires almost zero hand-holding.  And the "Generate QR code" feature is worth giving them a bonus star. 

Thanks for the feedback Scott.

The Exacq mobile app is almost impossible to configure on the first try and almost always requires a phone call to set up

What steps are you refering to that are impossible to configure? Genuinely curious here, as we didn't focus the test on the server-side aspect for this shootout, so maybe you're refering to something there, but I didn't notice anything during setup.

As far as a novice user being able to view live and recorded video, both have almost identical number of steps, and in fact, Exacq's  Select a Camera window is actually much easier to navigate than iVMS-4500 due to its preview images, and it indicates which cameras are online and offline:

You can argue that both Hikvision apps have a more modern app graphical appearance, but based on basic functionality and user interface design patterns, all 3 scored well.

#1 When adding a new system on Exacq mobile you have to be able to connect to it at that moment or you can't save it.

#2 When adding a system on Exacq mobile the OS adds spaces after dots in domain names by default because Exacq couldn't be bothered to classify the fields

#3 same issue as above but capitalizes usernames. This catches many novice users who don't know usernames are case sensitive. 

#4 the part where you enter usernames is hidden from view and requires you to scroll down in a box that is not obviously scrollable.  This generates countless phone calls

#5 credentials are not saved after an OS or app upgrade. This generates countless phone calls

There is more, but it starts getting nit picky and more UX related. Above are the typical phone call generators 

Thanks for the detailed feedback.

I did not find #2 to be the case on any version of the app I tested, if I enter exacq.ipvm.com, it doesn't enter any spaces after the periods.

Same with #3, this might be a device related issue, because none of my test versions of the app capitalized the first letter of the username.

I agree that the hidden password field is poor design, but a slider indicator does appear once you check the box for "Provide default credentials"

I was not able to test an OS or app upgrade, thank you for bringing this up.

 

Are these apps proprietary or can I use them all on the same NVR?

They are proprietary to each manufacturer. Beyond that, I did not test to see if the Hivision or Dahua apps would work on OEM versions of Hik or Dahua NVRs. You cannot use iVMS-4500 with a Dahua NVR and vice versa (I tested this today, just to make sure).

I’ve yet to find an OEM that doesn’t work with the branded apps. 

I figured as much, I know it's a silly question but that's what I'm here for!

Thanks! Very interesting to read.

Though for the sake of the argument: very arguable basic/advanced features breakdown, accordingly, the marks are subjective.  

IMHO, "basic" should not about be something traditional, it should be about majority users convenience(what most people expect/want to have).

For example: stream quality control and push notifications should fall under "basic".

If you do not have a quality control you cannot optimize quality for your low bandwidth channel playback(3g/4g), which really makes it difficult to use( you may end up having 0.2fps ). 

Any player (youtube, twitch, porn sites etc ) have quality controls.

 

Push notifications - it's very expectable features for most users, also. I try to be objective(our mobile app does not have it yet).



I would put the multichannel view to the "Advanced". Really, what's the user stories for mobile users? do they have to use multichannel more than quality control?

 

 

My basics are:

Ease of live/playback 

Quality control 

UX/UI

Cloud 

Audio 

PTZ (not covered )

 

Advanced:
Search ( motion, events)

2way audio (not covered )

Access control( your terminology)

2fa

 

Good report Sean.

Do any of these apps support the use of the mobile devices inbuilt camera as an IP camera? Allowing footage to be streamed back to the VMS?

Cheers.

Milestone does for sure!

As Yoeri mentioned, Milestone does, and Genetec Legacy Security Center 4 app does as well.

Anyone supports maps ? I think it is important for any installation.

AxxonSoft has in both iOS and Android apps.

Thank you for doing the App shootout.  Great job! 

However, I did notice an error that I hope you will correct with the Avigilon App. 

  1. You can view more than one live image at a time.  
  2. You can have much more than 2 layouts.  I have had as much as 8 layouts and over 150 cameras available at one time (just a swipe away).  Once you add at least 1 camera to the blank layout, another blank layout becomes available.  That means that you can theoretically have 100s of cameras accessible at one time. 

Some other things that I find noteworthy about the app are:

  1. That you can connect to many different sites at one time (if needed).
  2. It has one way audio.  This allows you to perform a “talk-down” if there is a speaker or intercom present at the site.
  3. You don't have to load a layout one camera at a time.  If you have saved views in the client, you can then load the same saved view in the app.  This is a huge time saver and it provides consistency between applications.

BTW, I totally agree that they need to improve the app (especially adding audio).  I am pretty sure the new version of the app will have 2-way audio.

Thanks again for your service to our industry.

 

I reviewed my scoring video and stated they scored average on Number of simultaneous Cameras because they only support a single playback stream, but support multiple live streams. Let me know if that isn't what you're referencing. (I know this reads defensive, but I am just trying to be clear with which part of the report I am talking about).

Thank you for also clarifying the detail about the layouts, I did not notice the additional view that is created during testing. Also, there is a max of 8 layouts and 16 cameras per layout (plenty in general), and they can't be named/saved as views across multiple devices, unlike the saved or favorite view capabilities of some of the other applications.

That's an interesting point about the Audio talk down feature; I spoke to Avigilon support specifically about the Advanced feature criteria they scored poorly in (Access Control, Audio, Exporting). The support rep I spoke to must not have been aware of the intercom or speaker capabilities.

Thanks for going through the report and commenting.

Sean,

Thank you for taking the time to seek clarification.

Regarding the simultaneous lives views:  Yes it does display multiple live views at one time.  I have personally witnessed as many as 16 live video feeds on one screen (of course it is ridiculously small on a phone but the point is that it can do it). 

Regarding the saved views:  Saved views can definitely be utilized across multiple devices.  Once the saved view has been saved in the client, it is accessible to any user account (that is, for any user that has permission to see those cameras).  To your point, you cannot save a view in the app and then translate that across other devices.  However, I don’t think that is a good function to have anyway.  I would rather make those decisions through the client software and be done by the correct user level.  Then, it can be rolled out across managers, security teams, etc.  It also makes loading the cameras in the app so much easier.  You can literally just select the saved view and it populates all of the cameras.  This could be especially helpful for large sites with many cameras.

Regarding advances features:  Yes, the talk-down very cool.  In conjunction with the push notification, a user could instantly respond proactively to thwart crime by talking to the perpetrator; just as one example.  It is not only a helpful advanced feature…. It is very fun to play with!

I hope this answers your questions.  Let me know if you would like clarification on anything else. 

I've tested with as much as 17 views, by making new views in ACC Client and dragging the views into an empty layout in the app. I stopped at 17 to prove my point to a customer.

Anyone supports dewarping ?

AxxonSoft supports for Android only.

Nx does support client side dewarping for fisheye cameras. 

Yes it does and it works well.

Vivotek supports dewarp

I remember taking my milestone training a few years ago and thinking “we will never sell this” regarding milestone’s mobile app. I’m disappointed to see it still has not improved in a significant way. I like their VMS but the end users we deal with would not like the mobile. Hoping for some improvement on that in the not too distant future.

Has anyone tried the Digital Watchdog Spectrum app. Amazingly simple -  particularly with the record playback.

DARN!!   , when I saw the link to this article.....was really hoping for the review to include the NVR control app's from LILIN, ICREALTIME and SnapAV's LUMA and even ELAN's new updated NVR system.   These are the residential systems compatible companies....who are active in the CEDIA tradeshow market.....

The reason for the above four companies.....is that we are a Resi Systems Integrator for Control4 and Savant Systems........and those are the only companies that have software drivers for whole home system integration control.  None of the companies listed in the current article advertise in the resi market.......

Hikvision did slowly enter/ creep into the resi market due to its low cost...and a few drivers did pop up..for some cameras.......but most integrators I know avoided them.....

 

Mike

 

https://digital-watchdog.com/pressdetail/Digital-Watchdog-Announces-New-Control4-Home-Automation-Driver-for-DW-Spectrum-IPVMS-2017-08-23/

 

 

Sorry to disappoint Michael, we have been selecting VMS manufacturers based upon the largest market share. Our focus right now is deeper tests on the most broadly used VMSes (i.e., this ongoing shootout series).

We can't pick everyone so the thinking is to pick the companies that are most widely used.

Michael, 

Those may very well be who are most active in the CEDIA / consumer electronics / residential market. IPVM focuses on the professional / commercial market.

To give context from that post, here are CE Pro's Top camera brands:

Maybe IC Realtime really is top in their market but they are not in commercial / professional security.

We might expand at some point into the consumer side but historically and for now, our focus and therefore the companies we prioritize are different.

No Wisenet Mobile? (Hanwha)

Michael,

We added Network Optix / Hanwha Wave to our latest round of testing (VMS Camera Management Shooout) and will continue to include them in tests going forward. I would expect Network Optix / Hanwha would be near the top of the list for manufacturers to include for future mobile app shootouts.

Sean,

In the Resi market a camera subsystem is only considered if it is providing drivers that hook in to a home control system.....

All the vendors in the article.....are almost non existent in the resi space.

The major camera companies in the space are:

ICRealtime

Luma/Wirepath/VisualInt by SnapAV

LILIN which works closely with Control4

Axis is also part of the space...but with cameras only.....not their DVR.    Many control systems have drivers that work directly with their high end cameras.....and PTZs.

Many vendors are announcing Control4 integration drivers.....but in the residental world, its business smart to choose vendors that will be around for the long hall.....as residential system integrators have clients for a very long period of time......cheapest cost is rare the deciding factor....and integration is.

 

The major control systems in the home market are:

Control4

Savant Systems

Crestron

Elan

 

Resi guys want both the ip stream to the home control system app and control of the DVR functionality.  In the resi space ICRealtime is about the premier vendor that does really good integration with most control system is the most popular vendor.  Elan just announced two months ago, deep integration of the control system app with their DVR.   Most home control system drivers only control the Interface of the DVR and can only see the results via the video output of the DVR.  Elan went further and incorporated analytics and control and viewing of the recorded video into the home control app....so you don't need a dedicated app to remote access the DVR.   This upcoming year I expect many other vendors to do such for the top control systems.....

All the above vendors market and have a large presence in the CEDIA trade show environment......

 

The Summary Chart and report has been updated to show Exacq offering cloud access with Cloud Relay.

Genetec has a newer Mobile App called Genetec Mobile. Just curious why that was not used for a shootout?

This post was published last October, before it was released. We did a Genetec Security Center 5.8 Test in March, it was still in beta then.

We'll update this test in the near future, Sean is on vacation this week, so I am just giving a high level overview of what we have done.

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Despite being neighbors, there are key differences between the U.S. and...