I think a lot of what you see is due to security. Whether it is overdone or can be done other ways is definitely a question, but I’m just relaying what I understand Wyze’s position to be ATM.
Security in mind, let’s break down how the cams work today (it actually is very close to newbie’s description 6 months ago – a cam is limited to ‘SD card recording only’ without Internet, provided it had Internet to start up, and does not lose power afterwards):
First – definitions: Internet is connection to the Internet. Implies WiFi, as the cameras need that to transfer data to anything. WiFi is connection to a router or hotspot, whether or not that in turn is connected to the Internet.
(1) Setup: Setup only works in conjunction with access to the Wyze servers, as all information about adding the camera to your account is exchanged at that time. So to initially setup a cam, you need an Internet connection. I do not think Wyze considers this to be a bug.
(2) Startup, the camera boot process: The cam has to contact the Wyze servers for authorization to start up. It also initially sets the clock at this time (the clock time used to be lost starting 90 minutes after loss of Internet, but that is another story and is now fixed). After that you can remove the Internet. Assuming no power outages, it will record to the SD card indefinitely, even without WiFi. If you lose power, go back to the first sentence of this section. You can’t boot a cam without Internet. Once it is rebooted it will continue recording to the SD card and you can remove Internet and/or WiFi again. Wyze has said as recently as last month they don’t consider needing authorization to start up a cam to be a bug.
(3) Viewing the live stream: You can only continue to view the live stream after the loss of Internet for a very short time, as the cams renew their authorizations every few minutes. Once you lose authorization, you will need to be connected to the Internet to regain authorization. So live stream does require Internet with the current firmware. I do not think Wyze considers getting authorization to view the live stream from your cameras to be a bug.
(4) Notifications and the Cloud: If a cam loses WiFi or the Internet, all notifications and cloud clips will cease from that point until the Internet is restored. The clips and notifications will not be buffered during the down time, so they will be lost. Any SD card recordings will continue uninterrupted, however. So ‘record on event’ is your best chance to see what motion events occurred during the downtime, as you would have to review the entire continuous recording for events otherwise.
So when Internet is interrupted, you lose everything but SD card recording. When Internet service is restored, everything will pick up where it left off. If you lose power, you will need Internet to restart the camera.
I have not tried RTSP, Tinycam, or the openip.cam firmware the OP talks about in post 13, so I don’t know how much they might change the situation.
I think the ‘security hounds’ would erupt in fury if they thought anyone could view their live streams. Hence, you can probably thank them for a lot of what you see here.