You can now fly Skydio’s R1 drone with your Apple Watch

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R1 drone
Ready to take to the skies?
Photo: Skydio

If you’ve ever dreamed of controlling a state-of-the-art drone with just a few taps of the wrist, today is your lucky day. That’s because a new software update for Californian drone-makers’ Skydio quadcopter lets you take this high-end UAV to the skies — via your Apple Watch.

While that might sound a bit fiddly using a wearable device that’s purposely designed to be small and unobtrusive, from the sound of things it works quite well.

The Verge got a recent test drive, and notes how launching and landing the R1 drone is as simple as tapping and then slowly swiping the Apple Watch display inside Skydio’s app.

Skydio app
A look at the new Apple Watch Skydio app.
Photo: Skydio

From there, you can also initiate filming options, such as the drone selfie mode and a “cable cam” mode which lets you place a pin on two points and then have the drone travel between them. Other interface elements use things like the Apple Watch’s digital crown. The report notes that:

“It was a pretty flawless experience. I was able to capture some footage from the R1 doing a dramatic pull away selfie clip, and [Skydio co-founder and CEO Adam Bry] also showed me how you can use the Apple Watch to switch R1 shooting modes or the tracked subject on the fly, which is useful for when you’re on a run or riding a bike with a group.”

No, you probably wouldn’t want to control every drone with the Apple Watch. But the cool thing about the R1 is that it’s more or less a self-flying drone, which uses artificial intelligence technology for obstacle avoidance. In other words, you shouldn’t be faced with a situation where it’s only your quick fingers on the Apple Watch’s diminutive display stopping the possible destruction of your pricey flying machine. Instead, this is more of a leisurely experience that opens up a bit more flexibility with your drone.

Skydio’s R1 drone is available to buy for $2,000, either from Skydio’s website or from Apple Stores across the U.S. and Canada.