London based VC Technology Ltd developed and published Litchi already in version 4.4.1 for Android (iOS 2.1.1) as of writing this article. That makes the app a veteran amongst the autopilot apps and you can tell that when using Litchi. It is a very sturdy app and we ran into no problems using it with our DJI drones whatsoever. The app is available for Android (version > 5) and iOS (version > 9). Unlike many other apps Litchi is not free (Android 32.99$, iOS 22.99$). But we think that the meagre 20 to 30 bucks are well invested for a whole package of great features and no further costs.
Litchi web page: https://flylitchi.com/
What is Litchi:
The app can be considered a complete replacement of DJI’s own app Go4. It offers almost all the features Go4 has, but on top, adds some advanced functions for waypoint missions. Unfortunately, Litchi does not offer an easy way to generate grid patterns for aerial mapping and photogrammetry setups. That’s why a comparison with DJI Go4 seems fairer than with any of the mapping apps.
Clearly: The waypoint missions. Besides standard parameters (height of waypoint, speed and curve behavior) the app allows customizing many parameters like rotation of the aircraft, pointing the camera at a point of interest or tilting the camera. At each waypoint specific actions can be executed, including taking a picture, starting or stopping the video, or stopping the aircraft for a given time period (most useful when taking pictures). Waypoints can be set while flying using either the aircraft’s position or the remote controller’s position just with a button click. The latter is similar to the DJI Go4 app.
But Litchi really excels at waypoints because you can set all these parameters comfortably from your desktop computer. Litchi is one of the few apps that offer a desktop interface, where you can set up a mission and then load it easily on your mobile device. The desktop version and the app also make mission management very easy. For example, the same mission can be loaded and executed over and over again.
Though, the waypoint missions are great, there is a little grain of salt. That is, we noticed that at the first waypoint, taking a picture of a point of interest does not really work. The sUAV will first fly towards that waypoint take a picture and then turn towards the point of interest, too late! An easy workaround is to use waypoint 2 to execute the first action, e.g. taking a picture. That solves this problem.
Another nice thing is that, at least for our current setups, Litchi and Go4 can be run side by side and switching between them can be done even in flight.
To be honest, there are not that many. In comparison to DJI Go4, Litchi does not have so many smart modes, like terrain follow or tripod mode. With Litchi, you are basically stuck with waypoints, orbit, panorama, focus and object tracking. In a later update, we might compare these modes with the DJI modes, especially tracking (which is not very advanced in DJI) and panorama (which has been a feature for Litchi for a long time, but was just recently introduced by DJI).
Litchi does not connect over wifi to the sUAV which means a remote-control-free set up is not possible with the Mavic Pro, Spark or Mavic Air. However, we would always recommend to use the remote for better results and safer flying.
Another point would be that the settings menu is really not that user friendly. We know there are many complaints about the user friendliness of DJI apps, but Litchi is even worse. It’s just a long list of text, no submenus or graphical guidance to enhance readability. On the other hand this might be a subjective point and someone else might like it better this way. On the upside, the menu offers all the settings that are present in DJI Go4, so there is no compromise in functionality.
We use Litchi mainly for the advanced waypoint capabilities in aerial photography or videography. The desktop/web application makes planning missions easy and comfortable. The little quirk with the first waypoint can be easily circumvented and might be fixed by now. The lack of smart flying modes does not bother us that much as one can always revert back to Go4 mid-mission, where these are available.
Overall, if you need waypoint missions and have the 20-30$ available, Litchi is highly recommended for its stability, ease of use, and cost.
VC Technology, we love your app and if you read this, please consider adding grid style missions for mapping. That would make your product the perfect all-around application for us. We know you can do it!