By: Kevin Mukai – http://www.nvdrones.com
DJI GO is the primary application that many DJI pilots use to fly their drone. However, while DJI GO is great for most users, it often does not sufficiently satisfy the many tastes diverse pilots around the world yearn for.
Thanks to DJI’s SDK (Software or Solutions Development Kit), there are now other applications that DJI pilots can easily install on their mobile device for a completely different (and many times, superior) flying experience. It’s not uncommon to hear pilots say that they don’t trust 3rd-party applications – for the record, I don’t blame them. Your drone is a big investment and you don’t want to risk anything happening.
With that said, the top 3rd-party DJI apps have thousands of users and substantial flying hours and testing under their belts. I’ve had conversations with many pilots who trust these 3rd-party apps more than they trust DJI GO because of better connectivity, control, and other factors that I’ll outline below.
Without further ado, here are 5 reasons why DJI GO only scratches the surface of your DJI drone’s potential.
More Than Just Aerial Photography
Of course, the most popular function of any DJI drone is to capture amazing aerial shots for photography. This is highlighted by the fact that all of DJI GO’s functionality is built around capturing the perfect shot. However, aerial photography is just one application your DJI drone can fulfill.
It’s no secret that drones are being used for more than just aerial photography – agriculture, construction, and industrial inspection, are all budding industries that are being revolutionized by drones.
There are a slew of 3rd-party DJI apps that specialize in NDVI imaging for Agriculture and 3-D modeling for Construction. The clear leaders in this space vying for top position are DroneDeploy and Maps Made Easy. Both apps allow for extremely simple map planning and execution. Define the area you want to analyze, press “takeoff,” and the drone will automatically capture all the necessary images from takeoff to landing, calculating precisely when and where to take each picture. After it’s done, the drone sends the images to the cloud for stitching and further analysis.
The high-level concept might sound simple, but it really isn’t – this is the type of stuff that as recently as a few years ago required highly-skilled GIS specialists days to do the same. With DroneDeploy and Maps Made Easy, even amateurs can create high-resolution maps in minutes.
Devoted App Developers Means More Nuanced Features – Even for Aerial Photography.
DJI might be the most powerful and resource-gifted (i.e. lots of employees) drone company in the world, but that’s a double-edged sword in some respects. The fact that they must design, manufacture, and ship, tens of thousands of drones worldwide means that they have a lot on their plate besides working on DJI GO.
Often times smaller companies have the benefit of being closer to the customer and can create products that are better tailored to fit their needs – it is no different with DJI 3rd-party apps. Litchi and Autopilot incorporate dozens of features that DJI GO doesn’t.
For instance, Autopilot offers a mode called “Airspace” that allows multiple drones and mobile devices to share their telemetry information (note: Autoflight Logic, the developer company, emphasizes that Airspace is a NOT for beginners). Airspace allows you to follow different people, objects, or drones in a way not possible with DJI GO.
While DJI GO and other apps have “follow-me” modes that are fully autonomous, Vertical Studio offers a follow-me mode that still gives the operator creative freedom over the drone itself. The camera and gimbal uses sophisticated computer vision to track an object while the drone is completely controlled by the pilot. This is great for situations where you want to follow an object but also want the drone to be moving in particular directions that may not be strict following or orbiting.
Ask any experienced commercial operator and they’ll tell you that planning your mission before arriving at the flying scene can save immense amounts of time out in the field.
DroneDeploy, Maps Made Easy, Litchi, and Autopilot, all allow you to plan specific flight paths before you go out to the field. Once you’re in the field you can execute those exact flight paths you mapped out back in the office. This feature enables bigger teams to be significantly more efficient in their operations. An office manager can plan a flight in the office and the field operator can simply set up the drone and press “go.”
With Litchi, you can use your Samsung Gear VR or Google Cardboard to immerse yourself in virtual reality. Your head movements will control the gimbal and you’ll feel like your head’s above the clouds – literally.
Better Customer Support
Having trouble? If you request a support request with a 3rd-party DJI app, chances are you’ll get in touch with a core member of the development team who knows the intricacies of the application inside and out. Contrast this with submitting a request with DJI and weaving through the customer support web of a $10B business.
For most beginners, the stock DJI GO app should be the app that you use exclusively until you get comfortable with your drone. However, once you feel confident in your flying skills, you should definitely venture out and try some of these boundary-pushing 3rd-party apps.
What’s your favorite 3rd-party DJI app and why?
(Above Blog post by Kevin Mukai – http://www.nvdrones.com )
Links to More Links!
Our Introduction to Litchi
RCGroups Master Thread on DJI SDK Apps – Very long and somewhat technical, but if you want to get into the nitty-gritty of what is available, peruse this thread.