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The best drone apps

Make yourself a better drone pilot with these handy mobile apps

One of the most important things you can do after purchasing your drone is download the right apps to use with it. Drone apps don’t just help you fly the drone (although flight control apps are obviously important), they also help you track weather conditions, gather data, record your flight, communicate with other drone pilots, and much more.

We aren’t saying that you have to download all of these when setting off on your drone exploits, but having a few handy is very useful. Take a look at the top apps and why they are important.

B4UFLY (Free)

B4YFLY
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When the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) comes out with an app they advise drone pilots to use, it’s probably a good idea to take their advice. This app offers a status indicator for fly/no-fly conditions, a planning mode for creating flights in the right areas (avoiding air traffic and illegal zones), and plenty of other resources. When first scouting an area, particularly a more urban or populated area, this app is an invaluable resource.

DJI GO (Free)

DJI GO
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DJI Go is one of the most popular drone apps around—you’d be hard pressed to find an experienced DJI drone pilot who doesn’t have it downloaded on at least one device. It provides a live HD view from your drone, constantly tracks flight data, and offers a number of intelligent automated flight modes, including a “follow me” mode and a “home lock” mode. The app allows you to record and share video immediately, too. If you have a DJI drone, download this app: We’ll talk about a couple other flight planning and video apps below, but start with DJI Go and see if you need anything else.

UAV Forecast (Free)

UAV Forecast
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UAV Forecast is an incredibly simple app that’s also particularly handy: It gives you detailed information for weather conditions in your area, from a UAV perspective. That includes detailed information about wind, precipitation, visibility, cloud cover, and how this data changes from hour to hour. Pop it open to see what conditions are like today, how they are trending, and where is a good place to fly. It’s a nice alternative if you don’t really like B4UFLY.

 

Litchi ($23)

Litchi
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Litchi is a cutting-edge videography app that’s designed to get excellent drone recordings even when tackling difficult subjects like fast-moving animals or high-action sports. In addition to tracking fast-moving things, Litchi also offers a focus mode for detailed, high-res shots, plus modes to record VR footage and ways to plot your waypoints. Basically, whatever type of video or photo work you want to do with your drone, Litchi offers one of the best ways to do it. The biggest downside is that, while most drone apps are free or low cost, Litchi is $23 to download.

 

Airnest (Free)

Airnest
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Airnest is excellent flight planning and logging app that you can use to draw flight paths in an organic way, log unlimited flights when you’re done, and play back your flight at leisure. It also helps provide valuable analytics for batteries, GPS performance, orientation, altitude, speed, and more, so you can see just how your drone is performing. It’s an excellent app for both beginners and long-time professionals: The only current downside is that it’s limited to a certain number of drone models, primarily a number of DJI drones, so you have to make sure your model is compatible.

DroneDeploy (Free)

DroneDeploy
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DroneDeploy is easily one of the best automated drone mapping apps around—that is, an app that you can use to program an automated flight path for your drone, ideal when scanning or photographing a particular area thoroughly. The app allows you to manage takeoff, flight patterns, automated image capture, video streaming, and landing processes (you can also instantly switch over to manual control whenever you want). The interface and tools are all top-notch, but you may find it easier to use some of the more complex tools on a larger device. This app is specifically designed for DJI drones.

 

Hover (Free)

Hover
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Hover is an excellent beginner-friendly app that new drone pilots should download as they make their first flights. It combines a number of useful information vectors to provide a hub of valuable data that includes real-time weather reports, fly zones (and a fly/no-fly indicator), and a flight log for you to record your data. It’s a fairly simple app and you may want to upgrade as you become more experienced, but in the beginning it offers great at-a-glance information.

 

Precision Mapper (Free)

Precision Mapper
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PrecisionMapper (and its sister software, PrecisionViewer) are designed to work with any drone, allowing you to create and share GIS (geographic information system) data. Sign up and you get access to a ton of analytical tools you can use for serious GIS projects, as well as the ability to upload any GIS information from your drone records. It’s an incredible app system for scientific surveys of all kinds, or just sharing the information your sensors picked up with those who can use it best. Don’t let your valuable data go to waste.

Tesla Field Recorder (Free)

Tesla Magnetic Field App
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The Tesla Field Recorder is a fun — and potentially very important app — that you can use to detect magnetic fields and record them. If you do a lot of exploring with your drone, there’s a chance you might run into a nasty magnetic disturbance that threatens drone operation, or at least makes operation seriously weird. When you come across something like that, you can pop this app open to measure and record the disturbance. Then share it with your drone buddies or geocaching friends so they know about it too. Everyone wins.

Editors' Recommendations

Tyler Lacoma
Former Digital Trends Contributor
If it can be streamed, voice-activated, made better with an app, or beaten by mashing buttons, Tyler's into it. When he's not…
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