The remarkable Hover Camera Passport arrives at Apple retail stores and Apple.com

Have you ever wanted your own personal camera drone, but found that the devices on the market were too expensive and/or had a difficult learning curve? Last fall, the Hover Camera Passport (US$499) was introduced and it changed the world of photography forever with a small, lightweight, flying high-definition camera that is primarily self-flying. Today Zero Zero Robotics, the company behind Passport, announced that the flying travel-friendly camera is available exclusively on Apple.com and in Apple retail outlets. Apple employees will demonstrate the Hover Camera Passport in stores starting today, showing off the facial recognition and gesture control features. 

That's not the only big announcement today -- the company has also updated the Hover Camera app to make it even more user-friendly. A new Owner Mode gives the Passport the intelligence to recognize and find the owner of the device so that it doesn't take photos of passersby. Passport is totally compatible with iMovie and Final Cut Pro X; connecting the camera to a Mac instantly downloads photos and video for editing and sharing. A new automated media editing capability in the app uses machine learning to create short clips of captured moments to instantly share with friends.

The Passport comes with two batteries (each capable of about 10 minutes of flight), a charger, an adapter and an easy-carry bag. Thanks to the design of the Passport, it's possible to fly inside buildings with no worries -- the propellers are safely tucked away inside a "cage" that protects hands and bodies. 

Now, a bit of background and an explanation of why I'm personally so excited by this announcement. I've owned a Hover Camera Passport since last fall, and the device is one of the most amazing accessories I've ever used. Flying it is simple: you turn it on, pair it over Wi-Fi with an iPhone for control and to see what it's taking pictures of, then unfold the "wings" and press the power button until the fans go to high speed. Let go, and the Passport hovers in place. Using the app, it's possible to manually or automatically fly the device, with "spin in place", "orbit me", and "follow me" modes that just take a tap.

Video of up to 4K quality and photos with 13MP resolution are possible. The nicest thing? Weighing only a little over a half pound, the Passport doesn't require FAA registration. The new user interface adds a level of sophistication and ease of use that means that anyone can fly the Passport like a pro right out of the box. Apple World Today will have a full review of the Passport in the very near future.