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The best drone apps for Android — enhance your flight
This article originally appeared on our partner site DroneRush.com
Excited to fly your new drone? Of course you are, but first, you’ll want to make sure you have all the tools you need to fly safely. That includes the latest software not only for the drone app to control your drone, but for additional tools to enhance your flight experience as well.
Today is all about the extra apps you can install to get more out of your flight experience, these are some of the best drone apps.
The best drone apps
- Google Earth is a fantastic app to find a place to fly.
- Airmap is a leading app for airspace authorization.
- B4UFly is the FAA’s official app, loaded with valuable information.
- DroneDeploy is an alternative app to many manufacturer flight apps.
- UAV Forecast combines weather info with GPS and solar interference stats.
- Aloft (formerly Kittyhawk) attempts to be the only app you need for flight tracking and maps.
- Sun Surveyor is a fun photography app that can help you decide what time of day to fly.
- Verifly is a simple source of flight insurance. Protect your livelihood.
- Litchi for DJI drones is a fun alternative to DJI’s Go 4 app platform.
- Google OpenSky is a simple LAANC authorization tool.
First, some theory. What is it you are hoping to accomplish before or with your flight? Perhaps you are trying to keep it legal, making sure you can fly in a specific location, there’s an app for that. Maybe you are looking for a logging service to help track your flights, there are tools for that as well, or maybe you just want a weather report. Your needs will differ depending on your drone as well — a camera drone has different needs than a racing drone, for example.
Go ahead and run down the list to get an idea of what functions a non-manufacturer app can serve for you. We hope to help you find something new and helpful.
1. Google Earth
As you well know, the first thing you’re going to need to do with any drone (after registering it,) is figure out a place to fly it. Truth is, there are some drone-dedicated mapping apps on our list today, they are great at showing where it is safe to fly. Safe places to fly is one thing, but before you get to that point, why not scour Google Earth to find exceptional places to fly. Google Earth is free for your mobile device and available on the web as well.
- Familiar and robust app
- Detail location data for the entire globe
- It’s just a map
Airmap is one of those tools that does so much more than just map a potential flight location or help you keep a log of your flight. With backing from companies like Microsoft and Qualcomm, not to mention drone players like Yuneec, Airmap is rapidly becoming the de-facto tool for commercial drone flight. Don’t let their drone mapping, geo-fencing, and flight logging commercial tools scare you off, utilizing the real-time traffic alerts in their mobile app is valuable enough. Check out Airmap for your basic needs, or for your commercial piloting business.
- Made for hobby and commercial pilots
- Maps, legal info, flight restrictions, and more
- Enables LAANC authorization for airspace approval
- The source for most other drone mapping tools
- Feels overwhelming for new pilots
3. FAA’s B4UFly
Let’s keep this super simple: the FAA is the entity that enforces drone laws in the United States, and this is their app that tells you where and when you can fly. I could stop at that, but I feel you should know that B4UFly is a little bit overbearing sometimes, telling you that you can’t fly in some places that you can. That said, the app provides one of the most detailed airport listings around, displaying the 5-mile radius of each. What it boils down to, if in doubt, the B4UFly app is how you go to the source for legal info on drone flights in the United States.
- The official FAA resource for drone pilots
- Offloads LAANC to other apps
- Can be hard to understand
If your drone weighs 0.55lbs or more, you must register with the FAA and affix your registration number to the craft. The process is simple, but it will cost you $5 and you must be at least 13 years old. This registration will expose you to the FAA rules for drone flight, which we highly recommend you familiarize yourself with. Drone Rush can help too:
If you are flying for pay, or any other form of compensation, you must operate under a different set of rules and possess a commercial drone license. We call it the Part 107, it’s not too hard to get, but it will take some time to learn all the rules. We want to help you learn the rules and get your commercial license, check out our drone pilot training material.
Next up is an app that we hesitated at first to include. We had hoped to make a list of the best drone apps that did not focus on any one vendor, truth is, DJI is such a major player, and this app is so cool, we couldn’t resist. If you own pretty near any DJI drone from the Phantom 3 and newer, take a look at DroneDeploy as an alternative controller for your flying machine. The app provides advanced flight planning and autonomous control for your drone. Select a path of coordinates and watch your drone fly the route, have the app control camera exposure on the go and much, much more. Check out DroneDeploy now.
- Effective resource for commercial pilots
- 3D mapping and more
- Free app, but paid service
5. UAV Forecast
Focusing almost entirely on the weather, UAV Forecast strives to provide detailed wind and weather information to help you decide if it’s safe to fly. Tell the app the parameters of your drone, it can then quickly indicate whether or not today is the day to fly. A range of piloting info is provided, including wind speed and direction, wind chill and temperature, cloud cover, visibility, and more. Not to be outdone by other apps out there, UAV Forecast also provides mapping with visible no-fly zones. Check it out for your weather needs.
- Local weather
- GPS position tracking
- Solar interference reference
- Powerful “is it safe to fly?” tool
- Limited free data points, paid subscription for more
Related reading: Best weather apps for Android – on Android Authority
6. Aloft (formerly Kittyhawk)
Let’s see, we’ve covered apps that check the weather, apps that have maps with no-fly zone listings, maps with active air traffic information, apps that keep flight logs and help you track your drones, now for one app that does all of the above. Kittyhawk: Drone Operations is a robust app and platform, including everything from pre-flight checks to post-flight analysis. Kittyhawk is an ambitious app and platform ready to get you in the air and make the most of your time in the sky.
- Flight logs, checklists and more
- Can control some drones
- Weather check
- LAANC and advisories
- Can be overwhelming for hobby pilots
7. Sun Surveyor (Sun & Moon)
If you’ve ever been outside… I’ll just stop that right there. Outdoor photography is almost entirely a matter of managing sunlight, this is never more true than with drone photography, as there is no shade up there. Instead of guessing where the sun and moon will be, why not know for certain, Sun Surveyor does this, with great accuracy. The perfect sun or moon position is but an app away. Sun Surveyor (Sun & Moon) is $7.99 for Android.
- Fun tool for sun and moon tracking
- Accurate photography tool
- Paid app
- Not specifically designed for drone photography
Insurance. Love it or hate it, insurance is an important part of modern-day living. Unlike your car or house insurance, which you pay a premium each month, Verifly is doing something different, insurance on demand. The idea is simple, your flights, particularly commercial operations, are either too few or too spread out and unpredictable to commit to full-time insurance coverage. Verifly allows you to log your start time and finish time, then just pay for what you use. It starts at around $10/hr. Hit the download buttons below to see more details on the actual coverage. Policies are underwritten by Global Aerospace, Inc.
- On-demand options
- Protect yourself and your equipment
- Prices vary based on equipment and flight details
9. Litchi for DJI drones (special consideration)
We all know that you need the official DJI GO, DJI GO 4, and DJI Fly apps to fly your favorite DJI drones, right? Wrong! There are a few alternative apps out there that can take control of your DJI Mavic Pro, DJI Spark, DJI Phantom series drone and more, the best of these apps that we’ve tried to date Litchi. The full app name is long, but explains most of what it does, Litchi for DJI Mavic / Phantom / Inspire / Spark is a robust app that maintains the same feel as the DJI apps, but it does things a little differently.
Basically, if you will, if you are looking for the best of the DJI application, plus a few new treats, Litchi is well worth your consideration. The waypoint flights and VR/FPV functionality built-in are the key factors that attracted me to Litchi. Rich features and functions like these are at your fingertips through the going price of $24.99 for the app, which may be beyond what many might consider.
- Powerful alternative to manufacturer control apps
- Pricey app
10. Google’s Wing Aviation OpenSky
The folks at Google are getting in on the fun. OpenSky is a simple app to discover airspace limitations, and acquire LAANC authorization to fly in controlled airspace. The first launch of this app has very few features, as we could not see other flights in our area, drone or manned aircraft, nor could we confirm that our non-LAANC registered flights in OpenSky were reporting for other apps and maps to see our flight location.
If you don’t care about the extras that apps like Airmap can provide, OpenSky is a quick tool to get you authorized to fly.
- Relatively simple access to LAANC authorization
- A simple app for airspace approval and little more
That’s all for today, we hope you’ve found a new app or two to enhance your flights, or get more out of the captured aerial footage after the fact. This is an early list with plenty of room to grow and mature, just like the drone market, so please hit us up in the comments if you want to discuss any other apps that you think belong here.