I just bought my first drone, the DJI Mini 2. Not only does it top our list of best drones, but its lightweight nature makes the rules for piloting lax – perfect for a first flight. What’s not so perfect, however, is how confusing the thing is to set up.
I’m not talking about assembling the drone – stickers on the body (which you can see in the image above) make it easier to deploy the limbs and remove the gimbal protector. No, I’m talking about the application situation.
Now, I’m no drone expert, but I install and play with apps as part of my daily job, so this shouldn’t have been the chore for me that it turned out to be. DJI has so many different apps that it’s incredibly confusing which one I was supposed to use.
DJI Go? More like DJI No
When I familiarized myself with the design of the DJI Mini 2, charged its batteries and went through the instruction manual, I decided it was time to set up the device and I knew I needed of an app for that.
I remembered from the instructions that it was called something like DJI Fly or DJI Go or DJI Air, so in the Google Play Store search bar I searched for ‘DJI’… found many apps all of which seemed possible.
There was DJI Go, DJI Go 4, and DJI Pilot, along with two other apps from the company that clearly didn’t seem right. None of them had a user rating higher than 1.4 stars, which isn’t great, and made them appear at a glance as fake apps.
So which was the right one? DJI Go said it was “For products before P4” while the Go 4 said “For drones since P4” – as a first time drone buyer I had no idea what the P4 was or if the Mini 2 was before or after.
To find more answers I had to go through each separate app description, go through the list of supported devices and check mine against them…that’s when I realized that none of these three apps was actually the right one.
I had to go further by searching my phone for ‘dji app mini 2’ which brought me to the DJI website – here I found the correct app was not Go, Go 4 or Pilot , but a fourth called DJI Fly that just did not appear in the Play Store at all.
I had to sideload this through the DJI website, which isn’t exactly a perfect solution given the inherent risks of downloading and installing apps outside of the Play Store. This whole process, of researching and tinkering with apps, took me about half an hour – much longer than you might expect installing an app to set up a drone.
After all that the app luckily worked and I was able to set up my new cinematography tool. But it’s a much more complicated process than it should be.
Things shouldn’t be so confusing…
In our list of the best drones, we call the DJI Mini 2 “the best drone for beginners” – that’s partly why I bought it, because I want to take great videos of panoramic landscapes, and I decided that the Mini would be a great way to learn.
But if setting up a drone is so painful, it could put off other people who want to learn to fly – and who have also spent a lot of money on a new flying camera.
Drones are a scary thing to use – when I took the Mini 2 out of the case I was terrified because it’s small and delicate and I knew a drop could put it out of action. The dangers of flying, as well as the rules about where you can fly and what qualifications or certifications you need to do so, are likely to put many people off.
DJI must make it as easy as possible for users to use its products, allay their fears as much as possible and get them to use the drone quickly. If you’re stuck for half an hour trying to figure out which app to download, that will only add to the worries.
What is the solution ? Simple: having a single application that works with all drones. Oh, and DJI should really wonder why everyone is giving the app 1 star reviews as well – at first glance I thought it was a scam app, not the correct and official one from DJI.
Now that I’m on it, the app seems useful, with guides to restricted areas and workout routines for beginners like me. I just wish it was easier to get the thing working in the first place.