Your smartphone has plenty of games to keep you entertained, but that’s not the only way it doubles as a toy. There are some awesome gizmos that you can control with an app, making them better than any toy you had as a kid.
Sure, you can build an RC car with an Arduino, but it’s not as fancy as a toy. If you really want to have some fun, treat yourself to one of these gadgets. Because no matter how old you get, don’t forget about the child within you.
Sphero BB-8 Droid ($125/£99)
Sphero is obviously the first choice for anyone looking for a phone-controlled toy, but the BB-8 won a special place in our geeky hearts. And it’s dropped in price slightly from its launch cost of $150, available for just $125 now.
The BB-8 is almost like any other Sphero ball, only it comes with a detachable magnetic head. You can control the bot with your phone from 100 feet away, as it rolls at a top speed of 5 miles per hour. Oh yeah, and it reacts to voice commands too!
For more on this one, read our full review of the Sphero BB-8.
Sphero Ollie ($75-99/£100)
Ollie is the other Sphero bot that has been wowing everyone who uses it. It’s much faster than the regular Sphero, with a top speed of 14 miles per hour, and has built-in LEDs that shine in the night.
Ollie also performs several tricks, like jumping and flipping. The best part about Ollie is that it also doubles as a teaching tool. Gift Ollie to a child and they can play with it.
Psst, check out the “Darkside Edition” of the Ollie, it’s way cooler than the regular one (and cheaper too).
Wonder Workshop Dash ($150/£155)
Dash is a more child-oriented version of Sphero, with a cartoonish appearance and a charming personality. And what’s more, it is a great way to teach kids the basics of programming.
It’s a simple drag-and-drop interface that children can use to get the basic hang of how logic works in programming. By default, Dash can move, dance, light up, make sounds, avoid obstacles, and even react to your voice. And you can unlock other features in the coding app.
As you can see in the video, Dash responds perfectly to input from your phone or tablet. It’s the ideal gift for kids aged six and more.
R.E.V. Air ($50)
You have to play a game with the Robotic Enhanced Vehicles (R.E.V.) kit to really appreciate how awesome it is. The kit includes a quadcopter drone and a car, with both being a part of an epic battle to the death.
It’s an augmented reality game, so your gadgets don’t actually take any hits. You can choose to play as the drone or the car, while the other is operated by an artificial intelligence (AI). Out-manoeuvre the attacks and bring down your opponent to win.
R.E.V. also allows for two players to control each vehicle, and you can have friends bring their own R.E.V. vehicles for a four-player battle royale. Wicked fun!
TobyRich Moskito Plane ($50)
The reviews are unanimous: The TobyRich Moskito is the best starter toy for anyone who wants to fly a plane with their phone. It’s easy and intuitive, it is resilient to crashes, and it’s pretty cheap.
The Moskito is made out of durable materials because crashes are a part of the toy flying experience. The rudder is a little flimsy, but you can get a replacement part easily.
Importantly, you will adapt to the Moskito’s intuitive controls in minutes. And the gesture-based controls mean that your eyes stay on the plane, not on your phone, which what all the fun is about.
This is one of those toys that makes you freak out about how awesome technology is. The POWERUP actually turns any paper airplane into a remote-controlled plane for your phone!
It’s a tiny gadget with a smart sensor at the front, and a rudder and propellor behind. Build a paper airplane, place the gadget in it, and you can now control the airplane’s flight. How amazing is that?
POWERUP charges with a microUSB cord, and the whole thing is pretty durable. Plus, a kit of spare parts costs less than $10, in case anything breaks.
Don’t forget to go to POWERUP’s official site to find different designs to make a variety of cool-looking paper airplanes.
If your house has a pool or you love to go outdoors, the Brookstone Rover Land and Sea will be an entertaining companion. It’s like a souped-up version of a classic RC car.
The built-in camera shows everything that the Rover sees, letting you control it from 150 feet away. It’s an all-terrain vehicle, handling lawns with the same ease as tiled floors. Oh, and did we mention it’s amphibious?
That’s right, the Rover Land and Sea operates in water too, and you can control its movement like on land. That’s a fun pool buddy, right there. Of course, you might want to put a waterproof case on your iPhone first.
Anki Overdrive ($128/£140)
If you grew up playing with Hot Wheels or any other such tiny cars, you will instantly fall in love with Anki Overdrive.
Lay out the track that comes as a part of the Anki Overdrive kit, place your cars on it, and get ready to race. Don’t be afraid to get rough with your opponents and fire virtual rockets or bullets at them. Anything goes in Overdrive, and all the action plays out on your screen.
The best one, though, is the Battle mode. There’s no race here, your job is to take out your opponent as many times as possible. It’s like playing Mario Kart in real life!
But What About Drones?
You might have noticed the conspicuous absence of quadcopters and drones in this list. Thing is, drones are now their own market and recommending one would be impossible. That’s why we have this guide for the best drones in any budget.
Now tell us, have you got any of the toys on this list? Which other cool smartphone-controlled gizmos have we missed?
Image Credit: ardiwebs via Shutterstock.com