The next thing most of us do after taking a picture, this being 2014, is upload it to social media (usually Snapchat or Facebook).
So, if you are considering buying a drone, chances are you want a model that minimizes the number of steps between the flash and the Twitter-sphere.
Most drones on the market include a slot for a micro-SD card or a gimbal for a GoPro camera, but the key is the smartphone in your pocket.
To truly cut down on the time it takes to post a picture online, your drone must interface with your phone. Using a GoPro camera is a great way to do this but some drone manufacturers have built sharing features right into their system:
Parrot’s AR Drone 2.0 is a shining example of stream-lined social media sharing. The AR Free Flight mobile app that controls the drone itself also saves the pictures and video you take with the AR 2.0 right to your smartphone or tablet. You can view them in the in-app gallery and share straight to Facebook or YouTube (the app even has a feature that automatically uploads your videos to YouTube). Or you can view your media in your device’s gallery and share it from there.
Walkera has also built a mobile app that can be used to pilot the QR W100S and control its camera. However, the general consensus on YouTube seems to be that the latency between the drone itself and your smartphone makes it difficult to control so it might be in your best interest as a consumer to purchase a compatible radio transmitter to do the actual flying. (The good news is, a lot of these radio transmitters can be used to pilot almost any small commercial UAV).
While flying the drone with a transmitter, you can still use your smartphone to see what the drone sees and take pictures and videos accordingly. Like the AR2.0, you can upload your videos right to YouTube from in the app.
The DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ setup is similar to the QR W100S in that you fly the drone with a radio transmitter and use your phone as a way to see what the drone sees and to capture pictures and videos. But the similarities end there.
The Vision+ has little to no latency between the camera and your smartphone until you start flying the drone far away from you (within about 100 yards you should have no problem). Additionally, the Vision+’s camera -which is extremely high quality- isn’t fixed like those of the AR 2.0 and QR W100S; instead, it is on a 3-axis gimbal that you can control with your smartphone. This capability opens up a whole new dimension of aerial photography.
And, of course, the ability to share pictures and video on social media is built right into the DJI Vision app. But, in what seems like a silly oversight, the media is not saved directly to your phone, so you have to download it from the Phantom to your phone before you post.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com