Silicon Valley giant Apple has taken a keen interest in the drone industry before, selling hardware from DJI and Hover Camera in its branded stores around the world.
Now it looks as though Apple is taking Skydio – the startup that launched the fully-autonomous R1 drone earlier this year – under its wing. Apple Watch users can now download a WatchOS app that integrates with the Skydio R1.
Piloting the R1 with an Apple Watch
The watch can then effectively replace the need to use a smartphone once the drone is in the air, allowing the user to pick a subject, select different cinematic skills and order the drone to return to home once it’s finished. The Apple Watch’s crown can also be rotated to rotate the R1 in flight.
This week’s update allows Apple Watch users to install the R1 app through the iOS Watch app: Just scroll down to the “Available Apps” section.
On top of Apple Watch integration, the Skydio R1 is also going to be sold in selected Apple stores across the U.S. and Canada. It’s the first time the drone will have been sold on a platform other than the official Skydio website.
A match made in heaven?
Skydio have released a number of updates since the initial R1 launch back in February. First was the ability to track cars, and second came the news that Skydio’s autonomy engine was being made available to developers, alongside a bunch of new autonomous ‘skills’.
But this week’s Apple announcement arguably has the potential to reach further than those did, even though it’s far less of a technical achievement. Placing the R1 in Apple stores – among the world’s most profitable – puts the drone in front of tech-savvy customers. And that’s before we factor in the marketing boost that comes with associating with the Apple Watch.
The latest iteration of the R1 is now available for $1,999. That’s still significantly more than DJI’s latest drones, but the price has crept down since the initial launch. With each passing update and new capability, the gap between DJI and America’s greatest drone hope appears to be closing.