When it comes to toys you can control from your smartphone, few are quite as fun or inspiring as Sphero. Orbotix blew onto the scene a little over a year ago with an awesome choreographed display in Union Square. The company followed up on the original with an upgraded v2.0 of the robotic ball which began shipping in September, but that wasn't to be the end of the line. Orbotix is at it again with a completely redesigned robot, dubbed Sphero 2B.
Whether it's a "moonshot" or not, Google seems to be dedicating considerable resources to its new robotics initiative, both financial and human. Almost three months ago Romain Guy, a highly-visible part of Google's internal Android software engineering team (and a pretty spiffy photographer to boot), announced that he was leaving Android for another internal Google position. He has since confirmed that he's moved to the new Google robotics team, currently headed by ex-Android head honcho Andy Rubin.
When Android founder Andy Rubin announced that he was leaving the Android team back in May of this year, it was a shock to say the least. At the time Mr. Rubin confirmed that he was staying with Google itself, but declined to say what his new role would be. Six months later, a report from the New York Times seems to have the first information on what he's been doing.
Welcome to the latest entry in our Bonus Round series, wherein we tell you all about the new Android games of the day that we couldn't get to during our regular news rounds. Consider this a quick update for the dedicated gamers who can't wait for our bi-weekly roundups, and don't want to wade through a whole day's worth of news just to get their pixelated fix. Today we've got an interestingly complex mech fighter, a beat-em-up with a strange fixation on carnival workers, a turret shooter that takes a few liberties with Roman mythology, a kid-friendly platformer, and a match-3 puzzler from Disney.
When I was a kid, "robot" meant something that you had to wind up (or if you were rich, something you plugged into your Nintendo Entertainment System). Startup company Play-I wants to change that with Bo and Yana, a pair of toy robots that use a tablet or smartphone as both a controller and a programming tool. The company's crowdfunding campaign started yesterday and has already hit almost 80% of its quarter-million dollar goal.
Finally, Android is not a second-class citizen. LEGO has released three new apps (okay, one of them is a game) for the Mindstorms EV3 robotics set in Google Play, just as promised back at CES. It's fitting, too. We're all just a bunch of robots around here.
The Mindstorms 3D Builder app is a handy 3D instruction booklet that tells you how to build the stock robots with the EV3 kit.
The original Sphero was an interesting idea, but it was a bit delicate and underpowered. Sphero 2.0 might be worth some consideration, though. Orbotix has made the new Sphero twice as fast (about 7 ft per second) and packed in a bunch of LEDs to make it three times brighter than Sphero 1.0. The company is also dropping an updated driving app to go with the new ball.
To show off the increased speed and acceleration, Orbotix is including two ramps in the box so you can catch some air with Sphero 2.0.
Pacific Rim comes to theaters tomorrow, and I'm already planning my route. Giant robots, Godzilla-style monsters, and a complete absence of Shia LaBeouf - what more could you want from a summer blockbuster? How about an official Android game... or two? The "full" Pacific Rim game comes from Reliance Games, a developer that tends to specialize in licensed titles. It's not to be confused with the other official game, which is more of an AR gimmick.
Cylons. The Terminator. Gort. Johnny 5. Science fiction seems more than a little obsessed with the idea of murderous automatons, and with good reason: it works. Newcomer developer Uppercut Games has taken the trope to mobile gaming with EPOCH, a post-apocalyptic shooter that does away with the humans altogether (to make room for more robots). The Unreal Engine powers this graphical beast, and it's available for $4.99 for all devices - or at least the ones that can handle it.
"Shoot the robots, kill them all, in the park, at your house, or even at the mall.
Shoot them high, and shoot them low, shoot them stop, and shoot them go. Shoot them here and shoot them there, you can shoot them anywhere!" -Nurse Seuss (Dr. Seuss' lesser-known cousin, for obvious reasons)
If you remember that childhood story and developed a deep-seated hatred for robots as a result, the time has come to Shoot Many Robots.