Question.. Installing Dronelink on DJI Smart Controller

Kgaudineer

Good Morning Dronelink Forum,

Is it absolutely necessary to have 'Google Play Store'  and 'Google Services' installed to use the Dronelink app?  Couldn't a user simply open the Lightning Browser on the DJI Smart Controller type in the url https://play.google.com and simply do a search for the Dronelink app and install it?  

I have tried a couple of times to install the play store, extensions, and even the text to speech app but each time the play store app really doesn't work (Can't log in) and I really have no way of verifying if the other google services really are working...   So in the end I factory default reset my controller and start again.  I can use the Lightning browser and navigate to   https://play.google.com and the play store will show in the browser.

The DJI Smart Controller android OS really isn't your typical Android OS but more a hybrid propriety android OS and as such doesn't have most of the functionality of the full android OS.  My primary focus when using the DJI Smart Controller is to fly my drone not check email play games or surf the net.  

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Comments

13 comments

  • Comment author
    Jim McAndrew

    Is it absolutely necessary to have 'Google Play Store'  and 'Google Services' installed to use the Dronelink app?

    Yes, it is required to enable out login system (which is based on Google libraries that the app assumes exist on the device).

    but each time the play store app really doesn't work (Can't log in)

    It isn't intended to install Dronelink from Google Play on DJI Monitors, but rather use the APK that is linked in the article.

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  • Comment author
    Kgaudineer

    Thank you,  I will give it another go and see what happens.  Looking into this more there are a lot of reports about the DJI Smart Controller having trouble when downloading over traditional home or business wireless networks and switching to a cell phone 'Hot Spot' or tethering to a computer and using the DJI upgrade assistant to download software has been the fix.  This time around I will try using the cell phone 'Hot Spot' and see if I have any success... 

     

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  • Comment author
    Jim McAndrew

    You would be better off just returning it and using a modern tablet.

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  • Comment author
    Michael Ninos

    Dronelink could do a better job stating upfront that they have no intention of supporting the Smart Controller moving forward although DJI is still selling the device and updating it's firmware as of 9/2020. Rather than AFTER we pay for Dronellink plans. Instead of returning my Smart Contoller, how about Dronelink refunding me the cost of the plan?

    To Kgaudineer, I have experienced no connectivity issues with my SC: Tethered to my iPhone, connected to my home or work network as well as a Verizon MiFi device. It has been a solid device easily beating the smart phone I was using previously.

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  • Comment author
    Jim McAndrew

    Dronelink could do a better job stating upfront that they have no intention of supporting the Smart Controller moving forward

    That is not our position. We are doing the best we can given the steaming pile of shit we have been handed. To say DJI continues to support it by citing firmware updates is laughable. Real support would mean Android version updates, which are basically never going to happen and we have no control over it.

    If you want a refund, feel free to send a request to support@dronelink.com and we will be happy to do it. Alternatively, you should consider getting a refund from DJI.

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  • Comment author
    Kgaudineer
    • Edited

    Update:  I did (finally) get the Google services 'side-loaded' (if that's an OK phrase to use) and the Dronelink app loaded.  From my experience I am/was experiencing the same communication issues as some other Smart Controller users when connecting to traditional wireless networks AP->Router->Nat to the outside world.  However when I switched to using my cell phone as a hotspot and going through the document to get the APK's loaded everything went along fine and completed normally.

    I am only working so hard to use the DJI Smart Controller because the limitations on my IOS cell phone pushed me over the edge.  The constant screen dimming and screen disruptions while flying were trashing more flight missions than I was actually completing successfully.  I know these can be turned off but I'm the network on-call guy who needs to be available 24x7 so silencing the notification alerts is not an option.  Then I saw the DJI Smart Controller.  It will pair with all of my drones, the screen is bright and the battery life is good I can even power it from an external battery pack if needed.  It wasn't until I went through this exercise that I understood how old the OS that was being delivered with the DJI Smart Controller is (late 2017 0r 2018 at best).  Hence this is my suspicion why we need to side-load the Google services.  I was willing to accept that for a while believing that DJI had some road map in place for updating the OS in the future.  Imagine my surprise and disappointment once I get everything working to learn that the product has been abandoned.  I agree the Smart Controller is a solid device and it works well (for now) but what about 2, 3, 5, years in the future?  If DJI has no road map to continue development then there is no faith that the same device can support future development with drone's or the software to control them.  

    Jim McAndrew:  Your advice is spot on.  While I know I can't return my Smart Controller it does look like moving on to a modern tablet is the best solution.  This experience can be filed away in the closet with the other "Somtimes Education is Expensive"  memories....

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  • Comment author
    Michael Ninos

    Kgaudineer, consider this: Is it plausible that DJI has not updated the OS because the apps DJI has developed run fine on the current OS?
    DJI just released an update for the SC to support more drones, the Mavic mini, Air 2, and the newest Enterprise drone, the Mavic 2 Enterprise. They have also, just recently released the DJI Fly app for the SC and an update to Go4.
    Why would they do this if the had abandoned the SC?

    Also, the screen dimming is due to the device over heating and will likely be the same with any mobile device. The SC has active cooling.

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  • Comment author
    Jim McAndrew

    Why would they do this if the had abandoned the SC?

    More context of what I meant by abandoned.

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  • Comment author
    Kgaudineer

    Michael Ninos:  Yes I agree that is plausible, however, it is illogical.  All of the apps you site that have been recently updated to run on the Smart Controller were first developed and released  for the more modern controller's and OS.  These apps were ported over to the Smart Controller last.  Additionally it looks like DJI will be setting their focus to IOS devices more and more in the future.  Also updating the firmware to run on a different device isn't an OS update.  My suspicion is that the hardware architecture of the Smart Controller won't allow for a modern android OS.  If this is the case then the Smart Controller is doomed.  The pace of technology will soon exceed that of the controller.  Think of it like my customers asking me why an one our apps that has been developed for windows 10 isn't running on windows 8.  Sure we can make it run in that older environment but there will come a time when that can no longer happen.  

     

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  • Comment author
    Michael Ninos

    Okay, I agree that the SC will eventually reach it EOL but, updating the device’s OS is irrelevant so long as it can run the apps as DJI intends. To say that it’s outdated because it doesn’t run a third party app is just wrong. Not only does the device run all the apps for which it is designed, it also runs apps built on the SDK.
    DL has designed an app with greater requirements than the platform can provide but for which it was not intended. In DJI’s defense, why should they fix what isn’t broken?

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  • Comment author
    Jim McAndrew

    To say that it’s outdated because it doesn’t run a third party app is just wrong

    Agreed, we are saying it is outdated because it runs a CPU that came out in 2014.

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  • Comment author
    Matthew P CASWELL

    Now after reading all this I'm not sure what to do.  I paid up in Aug 2020 and have the hobbyist plan. I was going to try and sideload Dronelink onto my smart controller but I think I would be better off loading it onto my Tripltek 1200nit pro tablet and using my MA2 standard controller.

    Jim, Are you familiar with the tripltek tablets and do you see any potential issues running Dronelink on the pro version?

    Thanks,

    Matt

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  • Comment author
    Jim McAndrew

    Haven't heard of it but the only thing that matters is how much power is under the hood (assuming it has a relatively modern version of Android).

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