Windows 10 Gems: Sphero BB-8 awakens your inner Jedi



With these Windows 10 Gem apps

With support from Microsoft

Sphero BB-8

Of all the toys this holiday season the Sphero BB-8 App-Enabled Droid may not have the most concise name, but it certainly stole the show. Never before has a toy so completely captured the magic and imagination of the Star Wars franchise — and captivated its fans.

Fans of Star Wars and Windows 10 are in luck — the Sphero BB-8 app works across PCs, tablets and Windows phones to let you control the little droid anytime, anywhere. That is why Sphero BB-8 is our latest featured Gem.

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What is Sphero BB-8?

In case you missed it, the latest Star Wars film — The Force Awakens — arrived in theaters late 2015 and with it a new, adorable droid became the unexpected symbol of the new trilogy. In fact, BB-8 is on the cover of the forthcoming Blu-ray DVD cover.


The Sphero BB-8 droid is a miniature replica of the Star Wars character complete with rolling ability, sounds, and even some rudimentary intelligence. It connects up to various Bluetooth-enabled devices, which then act as a remote control and interface for the droid. There are no speakers within BB-8, so all sounds come from your phone or connected PC and the Droid charges wirelessly through its pedestal base station.

What makes Sphero BB-8 so intriguing is its exact mimicking of how BB-8 in the movie traverses (including keeping its head on the whole time). At around $140 the Sphero BB-8 is not cheap, but it is a remarkable accomplishment in marketing and modern technology.

BB-8, in essence, is the ultimate remote controlled toy for both children and adults who want a piece of the Star Wars universe in their home.

What is the app for?

To make use of the Sphero BB-8 droid, you need to connect it up to a mobile device or PC. You'll need the Sphero BB-8 app to control BB-8, including putting the droid into one of its three modes: drive, message, or patrol.

Drive is just taking BB-8 into manual mode and driving him around your home. The controls are a bit tricky as you need to orientate the blue light on the Sphero to set the proper orientation and vector of the droid. Once completed, you can steer BB-8 around. You can adjust the ramp up speed depending on how good you are controlling the little bot. There are also various commands that let you set BB-8 loose.

Message is a bit limited but still neat as it allows you to "Record and view holographic messages" using your phone or PC. Simply record the message and afterward when you aim BB-8 at your camera it "projects" a hologram with your message. Granted, it's not a real hologram, and you can only see it on your phone or Surface, but it's a skillful use of augmented-reality and enough to delight even the most casual of Star Wars fan. Don't feel like recording a messaging? Use the preset messages to learn about characters and ships from the Star Wars universe.

Sphero BB-8 app

Patrol is easily the most fun feature. Putting BB-8 into this mode lets him explore the world. He bumps into things, makes beeping noises and maps out your space.

What makes Patrol so fun is the droid takes over and behaves more like an independent entity than a remote controlled car that happens to be a kinetic sphere. Setting BB-8 loose is entertaining to watch and creates the illusion that this is a real droid. And that is where the magic in this "toy" lies.

Finally, one of the latest features worth mention are voice commands. By blurting out 'Hey, BB-8" the droid becomes self-aware and is ready to execute various orders like "look around", "what do you think" or "run away." It's a rather clever use of multiple technologies all at once.

Beep boop weeeee-ooooo

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So how is it?

The Sphero BB-8 Droid is easily the most interactive and creative uses of technology for Star Wars fans. The apps for Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile do a magnificent job of letting you control BB-8 or even letting the little guy loose around your home.

Moreover, the apps have feature parity with those found on iOS and Android, so you won't miss any features. Multiple devices can connect up to BB-8 – just not all at once – so that anyone in your family can take him out for a spin using their Windows 10 or Windows 10 Mobile device.

The Sphero BB-8 App-enabled Droid is a home run hit for fans of Star Wars and cool, connected technologies. Sure, at the end of the day BB-8 is a toy, but it is one that will wow and delight those who see it each and every time. Seeing the extensive support for Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile makes Sphero BB-8 worth serious consideration for any Star Wars geek, or even the casual fan.

And with consistent updates from Sphero, who knows what new features the droid will pick up next.

Day 5 Sweepstakes:Win a Sphero BB-8!

Sphero BB-8

How to Enter: Log into Windows Central and leave a comment on this post letting us know why you need a BB-8 in your life. At the end of your comment you must also indicate you are posting as an entry into the sweepstakes, or use #sweepstakes.

Full rules and regulations can be found here, but please note that due to sponsor restrictions, the sweepstakes is only open to Windows Central readers in the US and Canada.

The sweepstakes is open until March 31st, and winners will be announced on the blog shortly after the close date.

The Prize: Three super lucky Windows Central readers will take home a BB-8 droid!

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Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.