How to update the software on the GoPro Hero 3

Updating the software on your shiny new GoPro Hero 3 is a simple process, but one that takes a bit of time.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Using a GoPro to capture your first bungee jump, a skydiving experience, or a 5K race is a fun way to document your experience. With the latest of the GoPro line, the Hero 3, there's a free software update that brings the ability to remotely control your camera using the iOS or Android version of the GoPro app.

Get started with the software update by syncing all photos and videos off of your memory card. Or if you're using a memory card you haven't used with your GoPro yet, take a photo with your GoPro to format the card and then sync it. Doing so will ensure your media is safe should anything go wrong during the upgrade process. Another thing to do before you get started is remove the battery and write down the 15-digit serial number for your camera. There's a chance you'll need this during the upgrade process, and having it handy will speed the upgrade. Plug your camera into your computer via USB before proceeding.

Click to enlarge. Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Alright, now that that's out of the way, visit GoPro.com/update on your computer. Here you'll see the latest release date for software on the Hero 3, or select another model of GoPro should you not have a Hero 3. (Since I have access only to a Hero 3, I won't be able to provide instructions for updating other models. )

Click on the Download Update button to continue.

Click to enlarge. Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Here's where I ran into a small issue. The GoPro site uses the latest version of Java to detect your camera's serial number and help you complete the upgrade. Per the GoPro site, Chrome won't work, so you should use the latest version of Safari or Firefox. In my case, even using Safari and having enabled the latest version of Java, I couldn't get past this screen. So I had to go through the upgrade process using the barbaric manual method.

Again, according to the site, the biggest convenience you'll miss out on is the GoPro site auto-detecting your camera's serial number and automatic downloads of software updates to your device (when going through the upgrade process). Proceed with the manual method if you run into the same roadblock I did.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

After registering your camera with GoPro and entering your device's information as requested, you'll have the option to set up the Wi-Fi network created by your GoPro once it's activated. You can take the time to do this now, or skip it and just get on with the update. Either way, you'll eventually need to download the software and move it to the memory card stored in your device. Download the ZIP file, unpackage it, and move the files (not the folder itself) to the root directory. The root directory simply means not to store it within a folder on the memory card. You want all of the files included in the update to be stored on the same screen as the DCIM and MISC folders.

Click to enlarge. Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

The final step in the process is to unplug the camera and wait a few seconds for it to power off. In the rare occasion it doesn't do this automatically, power it off manually. Then turn the camera back on and wait for the Updating icon to appear on the screen of the device. The red lights on your camera will begin blinking and the camera will start updating its own software. I recommend plugging your camera into a charger during this time as having your battery die during a software upgrade is very bad news. Once your camera is updated, you can get back to using it normally, just with fancy new features.

 

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