Opening door with a mobile app.


These days, it seems like you can do anything from a smartphone. You can set the temperature of your home, get food delivered to your door, or even hire a dog walker or house cleaner — all with the tap of a button. And now, thanks to advances in property technology, you can even remotely open doors and gates and manage access to your building. That’s all possible with a video intercom with a mobile app.

Today’s modern apartment video intercoms pair with a powerful mobile app, empowering building staff and tenants to remotely chat with visitors and grant access without any clunky or expensive in-unit hardware.

Read on to learn more about smartphone video intercoms, how they work, and why you should invest in one for your building.

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What are video intercoms?

A video intercom is a building entry system that controls access into a building and enables video communication between tenants and visitors. Video intercoms are installed at building entrances to provide a way for visitors and delivery carriers to request access or alert a tenant of their arrival.

When a visitor arrives at a building with a video intercom system, they find the person they’re visiting in the system’s directory. Then, they place a call to that tenant. The tenant receives a video call on their smartphone, which they can answer to see and talk to the visitor. Finally, the tenant can remotely open the door for their visitor by pressing a ‘door open’ button.


Watch how ButterflyMX works:


What is a video intercom with a mobile app?

A video intercom with a mobile app is a specific kind of video intercom system that allows building tenants to answer calls and open doors from their smartphones. Most app-powered video intercoms are IP intercoms, meaning they operate over the internet.

The video intercom system pairs with a mobile app, which tenants and building staff download to their personal devices.

Through the mobile app, a resident can:

  • Answer a video call from a visitor
  • Unlock the door remotely
  • View a log of all building entry events with time- and date-stamped photos
  • Send virtual keys to guests
  • Create single-use delivery passes to send to couriers


wireless video intercom with mobile app


How to use a video intercom with a mobile app

To use a video intercom with a mobile app, first, a property staff member logs into the intercom’s cloud-based dashboard. From the dashboard, staff can update the tenant directory and manage access permissions, review audit trails of entry events, and integrate with their property management software or other products they already use. Once staff has added residents to the directory, residents then download the intercom provider’s app to their smartphones. Finally, residents can receive visitor calls and open the door or gate remotely.

Below are three different ways you can use a smartphone video intercom:

  1. Place and answer video calls
  2. Open the door or gate remotely
  3. Easily manage the system


1. Video calls

A video intercom is a powerful visitor management solution that anyone can use to request property access. Whether it’s an Amazon delivery driver or a resident’s friend, visitors to your building use the video intercom to call any tenant (or a staff member, if you provide that option).

When a visitor arrives at your building, here’s what they do:

  1. Search within the intercom’s directory to find the resident they’re visiting.
  2. Tap the designated ‘call’ button or dial that resident’s unique code.
  3. Speak to the tenant when they answer (and if your intercom offers two-way video, the visitor will be able to see the tenant, too).


When a tenant receives a video call, here’s what they do:

  1. Receive a notification on their smartphone through the intercom’s mobile app.
  2. Answer the call like they would any other phone call. The app might give them the choice to turn on their camera for a video call, or keep the camera off for an audio call.


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2. Open the door or gate remotely

Perhaps the greatest feature of a video intercom with a mobile app is that you can open the door or gate right from your smartphone.

There are several ways you can open the door:

  • Swipe or tap a ‘door open’ button within the mobile app.
  • Use a voice command, like Siri or Alexa
  • Enter a PIN code on the intercom
  • Scan a virtual key (for visitors)
  • Use 3D/haptic touch (for iPhone users)
  • With an Apple Watch
  • Tap a button during a video call from a visitor


Watch how you can open the door or gate with ButterflyMX:


3. Easily manage the system

For property staff, video intercoms with a mobile app are easy to manage and update. Most come with cloud-based software, which means you can manage the system from anywhere on any device.

From your admin dashboard, you can:

  • Update the tenant directory
  • Adjust access permissions
  • View a log of all entry events with time- and date-stamped photos
  • Create and assign delivery PINs for couriers


Granting access for visitor using a mobile app.


Why your building needs a video intercom with a mobile app

Every building needs an access control solution. In fact, in some places — like New York City — an intercom system is mandatory for many buildings.

There are plenty of building entry systems to choose from, but a video intercom with a mobile app offers the most benefits for property staff, tenants, visitors, and even building developers and owners.


Benefits for tenants and residents

Apartment residents and commercial tenants alike benefit from the convenience and security of a video intercom with a mobile app.

  • Remote access abilities. With a smart video intercom, residents can unlock the door for visitors, delivery carriers, and service providers — even when they’re not home.
  • More ways to open the door. Residents don’t have to worry about carrying keys or fobs everywhere. Instead, they can unlock the door with the tap of a button on their phones, with a PIN code, or even with their voice.
  • Seamless visitor access. When a guest arrives at the front door, all they have to do is place a video call to the resident to let them know. The resident doesn’t even have to leave their couch to open the door. Plus, residents can send virtual keys to guests in advance. Residents can even open the door remotely for unplanned visitors when they’re not home.
  • Never miss a delivery. No one likes missing their delivery or having a package stolen. A video intercom with a mobile app prevents missed deliveries by providing a fool-proof way for delivery carriers to request property access. On top of that, residents can send single-use delivery passes to couriers for even easier access.


Benefits for property managers and building staff

Residents aren’t the only ones who enjoy using a video intercom — property staff does, too. The benefits of a smart video intercom are endless for property managers.

  • Cloud-based management. Many building entry systems require you to go onsite to update the directory or manage the system. But a smartphone-based video intercom comes with cloud-based software so you can manage access from anywhere.
  • No need to purchase and program fobs. Key fobs are costly and finicky. Additionally, tenants often lose, break, or forget them. With a smart video intercom, tenants can use their smartphones instead, which saves you time and money.
  • No in-unit hardware. You’ll never receive service requests from residents complaining of broken intercom hardware in their apartments. Plus, if you’re retrofitting a smart intercom into an existing building, you won’t have to disturb residents in their apartments by installing in-unit hardware.
  • Increase resident satisfaction. A video intercom with a mobile app improves the resident experience, which leads to lower turnover and increased NOI.


Benefits for developers and owners

Though building owners and developers may never interact with the video intercom system, there’s still good reason for them to invest in one for their properties.

  • Low cost: Video intercoms with a mobile app don’t need building wiring or in-unit hardware. So, you’ll save thousands on hardware and installation costs.
  • Easy to install: Since there’s no in-unit hardware or wiring, smartphone-based video intercoms are quick to install.
  • Increases tenant satisfaction: Tenants cite smart access solutions as one of the top amenities they seek in an apartment or office.
  • Elegant yet durable: A sleek video intercom adds instant curb appeal to attract prospective tenants, but is sturdy enough to withstand the elements. Look for one that’s IP65 rated for maximum outdoor performance.


Video intercom at entrance.


What’s the best video intercom with a mobile app?

Video intercoms with mobile apps are one of the most recent developments in door entry system technology. While there are several video intercom providers out there, many still rely on outdated in-unit hardware instead of smartphones.

The best video intercom with a mobile app is ButterflyMX because it simplifies property access and enhances security while eliminating expensive building wiring and in-unit hardware.

ButterflyMX has been installed in more than 6,500 buildings and has secured more than 7,000 fire-star reviews. What’s more, its mobile app has a 4.9-star rating in the Google Play Store and a 4.6-star rating in Apple’s App Store. These achievements illustrate ButterflyMX’s reliability and ease of use.

Property staff and residents love ButterflyMX because it offers:

  • Seamless integrations with other proptech, including property management software, smart locks, and more.
  • Additional products to enhance the access experience, including elevator controls, package rooms, keypads, and self-guided tours.
  • A user-friendly mobile app and cloud-based management software that’s easy to navigate.



Video intercoms with a mobile app enhance the property access experience at any building by empowering you to open doors and manage access from a smartphone.

Developers, owners, property managers, and tenants all benefit from having a video intercom with a mobile app. Not only does it cut costs, but it also empowers staff to remotely manage the system and ensure residents never miss a visitor or delivery.


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Johanna Gruber

Based in Los Angeles, I enjoy learning and writing about the real estate industry, and exploring how proptech can help people live and work better.