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

BB-8!

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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.

BB-8!

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

Hit us up on Twitter with your favorite Star Wars memories, and include the hashtag #Windows10DoesMore!

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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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Twitter: @Daniel_Rubino

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Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

906 Comments
  • I need this so my new daughter has something to chase around while she crawls :P. #sweepstakes
  • Show in browser? So lazy
  • My daughter (~21 months) loves Elmo. She adores Elmo. She'd sell her daddy to meet Elmo. Then she saw BB-8 while I was watching the trailer for Star Wars VII for the umpteenth time. Well, now there's no more Elmo. At least she's a Star Wars nut... #sweepstakes.
  • This IS the droid I was looking for! Let the Force be with me and Win the BB-8 #sweepstakes
  • May the droid be with me!  #sweepstakes
  • I really really need this Sphero BB-8 so I have company to go to Alderaan places! #sweepstakes
  • This would be great for my kids to play with, if I ever let them. #sweepstakes
  • I need a BB-8.. cause well, whenever you need to hide something from the dark side it comes in handy.. Say you have a holo message or say a map.. they are great for this (and they're smaller than the R2 units). #sweepstakes
  • I need this to torment my dog.  It's also nice to show people that Windows 10 for Phone is still alive. #sweepstakes
  • One of the coolest toys ever.  Would love to win one!  #sweepstakes
  • I need it because let's be clear....who the hell doesn't? #sweepstakes
  • I have wanted one of these for the longest time
  • Weird, but my girlfriend loved this little thing when watching the movie, would be nice to give her one :) #sweepstakes
  • My two little grandsons would love this! They are big Star War's Fans! "I posted this comment as a Sweepstakes entry"    #sweepstakes
  • Nice mainstream support for W10 #sweepstakes
  • I would love to play with this. Geeky toys are fun. Of course I'm commenting to enter :-) #sweepstakes
  • my dog will love to play with it lol, think how crazy he´s gonna be kkk  #sweepstakes
  • I would love a BB8 because I want something good in my life for the first time. Please I have been trying to win something on all sites all my life and nothing. Thanks for the opportunity to get something. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • droid wants me #sweepstakes  
  • I have both the BB-8 and the "Darkside" Ollie (both made by Sphero). The Ollie is just as much fun! Unfortunately, I can't control it with my Windows phone, as Sphero doesn't have a Windows app for it. :(
  • Nice to win. Worth a try #sweepstakes
  • I need BB8 in my day to day life to help me get actual work done at work. The possibilities are endless.
  • Its really awesome that they designed this and actually built one for the movie. I guarantee George Lucas would have just used CGI.  
  • Would be fun to have!
  • This would be fun for my son! (or me) #sweepstakes
  • I need this to keep my feline overlords entertained. #sweepstakes
  • I need this because I NEED IT!!! #sweepstakes
  • I need it to follow me arround #sweepstakes
  • Why do I need one? Because I spent an hour in a Brookstone playing with one. And with their fake sand stuff. Seriously, go check that out. #sweepstakes
  • I need one to add some excitement to the office #sweepstakes
  • I gotta have a BB-8 because my two cats have become complacent. #sweepstakes
  • I would have hours of fun w/ this w/ my 4 year old son! #sweepstakes
  • What! Really cool! This is a must have... I have two boys and some day they will play with this!
  • Need it to have lots and lots of fun... wish me luck!  #sweepstakes
  • I would to win this because I have a Star Wars friend in Florida who actually works for Disney. I need to send him holographic messages bragging to him that Windows Mobile has the Droid he is looking for, lol! #Sweepstakes
  • Need it to give me company #sweepstakes. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • because it looks really fun... uh.. for the kids, of course. #sweepstakes
  • My daughter's name is Rey so yes this is for me :) #sweepstakes
  • My other droid needs a companion! #sweepstakes
  • This would be fun playing with the puppy  #sweepstakes
  • My brother has one and I hate him for it! This is a great piece of technology!  #sweepstakes
  • You ever see those vids of BB-8 and various animals? WEll I need this in my life because I have two of them and what fun they would have! I am posting as an entry into the sweepstakes, #sweepstakes.
  • This would be very cool to win - My daughter (15) loves this guy (as we all do) and has been trying to save up for one - Would love to #win and give this to her!! Thanks! #sweepstakes
  • i need this bb-8 in my life to chase my dog around with it :D #sweepstakes
  • I need this so I can annoy my cats. And, Awesome! #sweepstakes
  • I need/have-to-have a BB-8 in my life because I already changed all the default sounds on my Lumia 950 XL to be BB-8 audio clips. PLUS I need a BB-8 to give me a blow-torch thumbs-up! Sweepstakes, sweepstakes, sweepstakes! #sweepstakes
  • If the app is powered by window 10, this app is going to be as sweet. I never used a Sphero BB-8, want to try....#sweepstakes
  • I would love one of these. Might be the thing that gets my wife to actually watch star wars with me. #sweepstakes
  • fun to have plus a big star wars fan #sweepstakes
  • My children LOVE BB-8 (and so do I)!!!! #sweepstakes
  • As far as Gadgets go, this is one of the cooler ones, so would love a chance to have a go. Maybe let the kids too. Maybe. #sweepstakes    
  • Its looks amazing when it rolls around. Would love to kids reaction when its running around :D. #sweepstakes
  • I need it cause it's a fantastic little friend to play with! #sweepstakes        
  • BB-8 would be perfect to chase our house rabbit away when it tries to chew the curtains.
  • I need this. I have two kids, 2 years and 4 months. It will keep them entertained! #sweepstakes
  • I really need a BB8 so I have something to occupy my old age with besides worrying about my health, weight, cholesterol level, nutrition, HCL number, BMI, etc  -  get the point?   Help!  #sweepstakes