It’s pretty standard these days for high-tech gadgets to offer a companion mobile app, and GoPro cameras are no exception. Pilots can use the GoPro app on an iPhone or iPad to remotely control the camera, which can be a huge help when it’s mounted out of arm’s reach or outside the airplane. The app also makes it possible to change just about any camera setting, start/stop recording and display a large viewfinder on your iPhone or iPad to help line up your shot.
The latest update to the app takes this capability a step further with a dedicated Apple Watch app, allowing you to start/stop recording and display the camera’s viewfinder on the watch face. While this may sound gimmicky at first, we actually found it to be quite useful when using a GoPro camera in the airplane. Here’s how to set it up:
- Verify you have the latest version of watchOS installed–go to the General section of the Apple Watch app on your iPhone
- Download and install the latest version of the GoPro app on you iPhone, and install it on your Apple Watch
- Pair and connect your GoPro camera to your iPhone using Wifi and Bluetooth
- Open the GoPro app on your watch
The first thing you’ll see after launching the watch app is a large red circle–this is the record button to start and stop the camera remotely. You can then use the watch’s digital crown (the little wheel on the right side) to cycle through video, photo and time lapse recording modes. Swipe one screen to the right and you’ll see the small real-time viewfinder.
We took the Apple Watch and GoPro out to the airplane to try it out, and had a couple observations. First, we found that the most useful feature of the watch app is the ability to start and stop recording. The watch vibrates to confirm the action, which was a nice touch in flight. You can also customize the watch home screen to include the GoPro app record button right on the watch face, making it even easier to find (watchOS 2 now allows you to add third party watch “complications” like this).
While the viewfinder is pretty small on the watch, we still it found it useful to verify shot composition and to make sure the camera was lined up properly. Pilots flying with the GoPro Hero3, Hero4 Session or Hero4 Black models will especially find it useful since these cameras don’t include viewfinders built in to the camera. Yes, you could use your iPad app for the viewfinder as well, but it’s nice to leave that dedicated in flight to your favorite EFB app and use the watch as the primary means to control the camera.