Ever since I first laid eyes on it, I wanted it. It goes by an interesting name: Sphero. It’s a toy, and like you might have derived from the name it’s a sphere. Not just any sphere. Nope—this is a sphere that you can control with your smartphone or tablet. It glows, it sounds like R2D2 and it comes with a ramp. In short… it’s awesome. There’s a reason why I had to include it on my list of The 100 Best iPad Accessories.
I’m not just saying that—I know from experience because I recently got my hands on one. I already knew that the technology and the team behind Sphero was cool (more on that in my interview with Adam Wilson, founder of Sphero’s parent company) but the experience is every bit as fun as you might think. Taking it out of the box is an Apple-like experience—you know there’s something good inside but you’re blown away by the incredible packaging job. With Sphero, you can just tell a lot of care and thought went into the packaging—you almost hate to undo it all… but that feeling quickly passes as curiosity gets the better of you.
Once the ball’s out of the box, setup takes just a few minutes. A quick double-tap on Sphero itself wakes it up so you can pair it via Bluetooth with your devices. In my case I am using an iPhone/iPad setup so I headed to the app stores to download the free Sphero app. Once everything’s connected up, it’s time for the fun to begin.
The main Sphero app has two modes. “Just Drive” lets you do just that—drive. There are no goals—just fun. Aside from driving you can hit a button to make the Sphero freak out a little bit. Good for when it gets stuck in a corner or on a surface where it’s hard to get some traction. Hitting this button will elicit the R2D2-ish sound from your device’s speakers and is worth doing many times just because. Additionally, there is a button whose icon looks a bit like a rainbow; pressing it makes your Sphero turn colors… lots of colors. It’s fun (especially in the dark).
The second mode found in the main Sphero app is called “Level Up” which lets you earn upgrades the longer you play. Sphero doesn’t run at full speed right from the ...