DJI Opens up the Mobile SDK to add new features to Air 2S, Mini 2 and Mini SE drones

Jan 15, 2022

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

DJI Opens up the Mobile SDK to add new features to Air 2S, Mini 2 and Mini SE drones

Jan 15, 2022

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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DJI has expanded its Mobile SDK for Android to support the DJI Air 2S, Mini 2 and Mini SE drones. Yes, that’s right, for now, it’s Android, although an iOS update is expected soon. Android first is a very odd move these days, especially from a company like DJI, but here we are. Interestingly, the recently announced DJI Mavic 3 hasn’t made it onto the compatibility list (yet).

The Mobile SDK allows app developers for mobile apps like Litchi, DroneLink and DroneDeploy unlock new features and tools allowing users to control their drones in ways the DJI app doesn’t allow. Like being able to set up waypoint missions or all manner of other things that the standard app for your drone won’t let you do.

The Mobile SDK has been around for a while now, supporting DJI drones like the Phantom 4, Mavic 2 and Inspire 2 – the kinds of drones you’d typically use for advanced things like waypoint mapping and tracking. Now, this functionality has added support for the DJI Mini 2, Mini SE and Air 2S, allowing you to perform these sorts of tasks with those drones, too.

While DJI obviously wants to sell its higher-end drones for custom uses like this, their lower-end drones are more than capable of such tasks these days, as technology has improved. More advanced GPS systems have gotten smaller and more accurate and the cameras on lower-end drones are now higher resolution than they were just a couple of years ago.

Exactly what new features does this bring to the Mini 2, Mini SE and Air 2s? Well, as well as custom waypoints mentioned above, you’ll get Follow and ActiveTrack – yeah, that’s right, features you didn’t even know you had and don’t have with the DJI app. The SDK will also have access to an array of other features including Orbit and Follow Me flight modes.

It is worth noting that while support for these drones has now been added to the SDK, that does not necessarily mean that the apps mentioned above, or similar sorts of apps, support those drones yet. One that has, though is Rainbow for DJI drones. It’s also worth pointing out that these apps generally don’t come cheap, with some, like DroneDeploy costing up to $299/mo for a single user. But, pricing will depend on your needs and the features and services you choose to go along with it. Litchi, for example, is a one-off $22.99.

While it might seem odd that such relatively inexpensive drones are getting access to these features through relatively expensive hardware, but for professional users who depend on waypoint and mapping features, going with something like the DJI Mini 2 or Mini SE opens up a lot of potential shooting scenarios that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to shoot in due to the fact that they weigh less than 250g. So, you can fly in places that you wouldn’t easily be able to with something like the Inspire 2.

It would be nice to see some of these features come to more reasonably priced apps for personal users – particularly the Follow, Orbit and ActiveTrack stuff that you can’t ordinarily get on the entry-level drones but I’m not going to hold my breath.

If you want to find out more about the DJI Mobile SDK, head on over to the DJI website.

[via DroneXL]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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14 responses to “DJI Opens up the Mobile SDK to add new features to Air 2S, Mini 2 and Mini SE drones”

  1. Pablo Avatar
    Pablo

    Just to mention that it doesn’t have obstacle awareness on any of these models.
    I played with these features and they’re quite useful in open areas.
    I do not recommend whatsoever if you have trees anywhere close.

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      The Air 2S has obstacle avoidance (you can literally see some of the sensors in the photo of the Air 2S at the top of this post). Only the Mini 2 and Mini SE don’t – but I thought that was pretty common knowledge already – especially given that having obstacle avoidance is one of the biggest selling points of the Autel Evo Nano and Evo Nano+. :)

      1. Pablo Avatar
        Pablo

        Sorry, didn’t specify the minis. I’m quite aware, and have done full teardowns on all the DJI.
        I have been impressed with Autel, I have just heard many complaints about signal quality and consistency.

        1. Kaouthia Avatar
          Kaouthia

          I’ve actually been quite impressed by the little Nano. I’ve tested it far beyond any distance I’d ever need in reality for the kinds of things I want to shoot with a drone and zero dropouts – as in “lost communication”. The video signal has glitched a couple of times for maybe a second and a half, but it’s only done that twice that I can remember. Certainly nowhere near enough that I’d be concerned.

  2. Leander Berg Avatar
    Leander Berg

    How is android first “a very odd move”. “Especially by a company like DJI” I expect Android to be first since it’s common in Asia. And not to mention Europe. Basically everywhere but the US, so it’s the most logical move which supports the most users honestly. Rather it’s strange how iOS is still seen as the only real OS by some US journalists.

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      Because 99% of companies (especially ones like DJI who sell products through the Apple store) target iOS first, because there are only a handful of models of phone and they all conform to the same standard set of instructions. As a consequence of there being a million different types of Android phones, they’re more difficult to develop for, so usually take longer and arrive after iOS.

      What’s strange is how all commenters think all writers are US based (Scotland isn’t part of the USA) or that we all use iOS (I’ve been 100% Android for years). I’m PLEASED that they’re going for Android first. It’s about damn time a big company like DJI did.

      Perhaps you should stop reading between the lines. You’re not very good at it. :)

      1. Leander Berg Avatar
        Leander Berg

        I’m not saying you’re from the US, I just noticed it there the most, so reading between the lines goes both ways there ;)
        Telegram has always done Android first for example and in general I don’t notice anything being first that often.
        I wasn’t aware that they sell in some hardware stores though.
        In terms of development I’m not sure, it could even be that something like an sdk is easier to implement with the more open approach on Android, although the USB communication methods have historically been… tedious to figure out to say the least.

        1. Kaouthia Avatar
          Kaouthia

          Yup, they have a whole section for ’em on the Apple online store. :)

          https://www.apple.com/uk/shop/accessories/all/drones

          Insta360, Moment and plenty of others have developed for iOS first. Filmic Pro was also iOS first. Historically, companies have tended to always prioritise the iOS app before Android.

          I think it’s a fantastic move to actually give priority to Android for a change. Hopefully this is the start of a new trend!

  3. Dan Avatar
    Dan

    DJI has announced that the iOS SDK is coming March 31st.

    Also, as another commenter mentioned, Android is a very popular OS outside the US due to the vastly cheaper cost of Android devices. DJI knows exactly how many users they have on both platforms, and it is very likely they targeted the larger user base first.

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      But the “Android first” approach hasn’t been the one that DJI has taken in the past, even though globally Android has been the more popular operating system due to the vast variety of hardware on which it runs and limitations set in place in different versions of the OS from different vendors (Samsung, OnePlus, Google, Vivo, Oppo, Sony, ASUS, Huawei, etc). It’s much easier to develop for iOS because all of Apple’s phones conform to the same standard – which is why they’ve prioritised them, to get the product out the door more quickly.

      Hopefully, this is the beginning of a new trend across the industry, but I’m not holding my breath. :)

      1. Dan Avatar
        Dan

        I’m a software developer with apps on the market for both iOS and Android. Yes, iOS is a vastly more homogenous ecosystem to develop for, and device OS is also kept up-to-date
        by end users for iOS far, far better than Android (for which updates are manufacturer-specific and cheaper phones never get updates at all).

        However, there is also a very big difference developing for them, as they use entirely different programming languages (Swift / Objective C for iOS and Java / Kotlin for Android). So it is possible they have two totally separate development teams for the two platforms. It’s also possible they use one platform for their “reference” platform that they develop in-house, then contract out a 3rd party to support the other platform to bring it up to spec. Or they may have one dev team that does it all, and thus they have to implement them serially one at a time.

        1. Kaouthia Avatar
          Kaouthia

          Yes, I know this, but it’s completely beside the point I was making. :)

  4. Arclight Avatar
    Arclight

    Not surprising at all. Android is 60%+ of the US mobile market and between 83-88% of the global market depending on which respected firm you ask (i.e. IDC or Canalys or Strategy Analytics etc, not Statista). The global number has slowly and steadily been creeping upward over the last 7 years.

    The Android development community is absolutely massive in comparison to iOS, esp beyond consumer devices. In-flight entertainment screens? Android. The new tablets/smartphones used by warfighters to direct drones and artillery fires? Android. Etc. So there is gigantic scale in android development knowledge capital.

    Plus those three drone models are more mass market priced and oriented, and less the hardcore enthusiast.

    So, seems like an extremely valid move to me, business wise and developer wise.

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      It is surprising because it’s not been the historical trend (again, especially with products from companies that sell through Apple’s own stores). The vast majority of products develop an iOS app first and Android comes second (or never).

      It’s a GOOD move. I never disputed that. But it’s still surprising.