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GoPro teases new Smart Remote and Hero 9 Black firmware update with app upgrade

GoPro Hero 9 Black smart remote
(Image credit: GoPro)

GoPro has revealed that it'll soon be releasing a new Smart Remote for its current action camera line-up, along with major firmware updates for the GoPro Hero 9 Black, GoPro Hero 8 Black and GoPro Max.

The two teaser announcements, which are so far lacking in details, came during the release of a more minor update to the GoPro app, which delivers a new feature called Mural (which you can see further down this page).

Mural is effectively a customizable wall of your favorite photos and videos, which lives on the app's opening screen. A new way of seeing of displaying and organizing your GoPro videos, it's available from today if you update the GoPro app on your Android or iOS device.

But it's the Smart Remote and firmware updates that are the more intriguing news. GoPro says that it'll be fully announcing a GoPro Smart Remote, which will presumably replace its existing remote (which you can see in the image above), on December 17 at 9am EST / 2pm GMT (or December 18 at 1am AEST).

There are currently no other details about this remote, other than the fact that it'll be compatible with the Hero 9 Black, Hero 8 Black and Max. GoPro says it'll be available to buy on December 17 in North America, but the rest of the world will have to wait till after Christmas for its arrival in February 2021.

December 17 is going to be a busy day for GoPro, because it'll also be releasing firmware updates to its current lineup of action cameras. This will apparently bring up to 30% faster offload speeds to the Hero 9 Black, Hero 8 Black and Max, which means you should be able to transfer footage to your smartphone much faster than before.

Aside from that, little else is known about the firmware updates, other than that they'll bring "other features that improve the overall user experience". 

GoPro app Mural

(Image credit: GoPro)

Festive treats

So what exactly can we expect from the new GoPro Smart Remote, and these mysterious firmware updates? GoPro does already have its existing Smart Remote (which you can see in the image at the top of this page), so it may well simply be a minor update to that.

The current remote lets you control all settings on your GoPro wirelessly from a distance, so you can capture action without being fully in the thick of it. It works from up to 180m away and, like most GoPros, is waterproof down to 10m. But it's not without its limitations, including a lack of voice control and incompatibility with the new Hero 9 Black.

Whether GoPro gives this remote a major update or simply refines it for use with the GoPro Hero 9 Black remains to be seen, but all will be revealed on December 17.

Of greater appeal to more GoPro users will perhaps be the new firmware upgrades, which will also be released on the same day. The Hero 9 Black received a pretty big update soon after its release on October 20, which promised to improve the functionality of its laggy touchscreen and cranked down the sharpness when shooting 4K video.

It was little rough edges like this that led us to give the Hero 9 Black a slightly lower score than the Hero 8 Black when it was released, but hopefully the incoming firmware updates will iron further out these issues – along with other niggles on the Hero 8 Black and Max – to give us all fully polished GoPros in time for Christmas. 

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Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson is the Cameras Editor for TechRadar at Future. He writes and oversees reviews of the latest camera gear on TechRadar and looks after all the photography tutorials. Mark was previously Digital Editor (Cameras) at Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on Stuff.tv, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine.