Sphero gets an improved, multifunction Drive app, we go handson

Just about a year ago we got to review Orbotix's Sphero, and while it was an amusing little remote control orb, its controls left a lot to be desired. A couple months ago, the company gave Sphero some new firmware that included the "Vector Drive" feature, which eliminated Sphero's meandering ways and gave it far more precise steering. Now, the company has improved its Drive app and combined it with the old Sphero and Cam apps. This new version of Drive has a tool that lets users aim the ball with a single finger -- a small, but welcome improvement over the old, fidgety two-finger method. Additionally, the app has a new Auto Heading function that keeps Sphero aware of the orientation of its controller to provide a much more intuitive driving experience. After giving it a go ourselves, we can attest that it's a marked improvement over the prior iterations of Drive. We no longer had to plan out Sphero's routes, and we could drive feeling confident that the ball would roll as directed. Check out how the refreshed controls work in our video after the break.

After showing us the improved app, Orbotix CTO Ian Bernstein also let us know that Sphero can now be bought at Brookstone, Apple Stores and Target, and you'll be able to pick one up from Barnes and Noble in the next month or so. Oh, and those apps using the Sphero Augmented Reality Engine we saw over the summer? Those should be ready for public consumption come holiday season, too.

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