With the holiday season quickly approaching, now is the time to start brainstorming for fun and creative gift ideas. One category of products doesn’t seem to get very much spotlight: toys that you can remotely control from your iOS device. So many people around the world already own an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. A real toy to control with the graphical and immersive experience an iOS device offers is an incredible idea.
We’ve rounded up some of the best toys that work just like that. They pair with apps on iOS over either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and bring extra gameplay that no regular controller would ever be able to. Plus, as fun as these toys would be for kids, there is no doubt tech-savvy adults can appreciate them too.
Anki Overdrive is one of the most impressive toys I’ve seen in a long time. It’s a racing game with the starter kit including two cars, four straight track pieces, six curved pieces, two risers, a car charging platform and a tire cleaner. It’s everything you need to get racing and even battle the cars on road. Play with either friends or set up cars to race automatically with AI and get more intelligent the more you play. My favorite part is that Anki Overdrive is expandable so you can buy additional cars, trucks, and track pieces to create a masterpiece. The remote control from the iPhone app brings the cars to life with weapons and robots ready for battle.
➤ Buy Anki Overdrive Starter Kit on Amazon ($149.99)
Parrot AR.Drone 2.0
You knew this was coming, but yes there is a drone on this list. Parrot is a very interesting company — they make both headphones and drones, a peculiar combination. Still, the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 is stellar. It has four propellers and two 720p HD cameras. The Power Edition model features two batteries for up to 36 minutes of flight. It even has built-in GPS and automatic piloting so you don’t need to be a drone expert to fly it. Of course, controls take place on your iPhone or iPad and you get to watch the videos your drone films there too. It’s a bit pricey, but that footage has got to be priceless.
➤ Buy Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Power Edition ($299.99)
WowWee Roboraptor X
If your kid is really into dinosaurs, he or she should really get a kick out of the WowWee Roboraptor X. It’s an impressive 32 inches long and walks around plus includes body movements. The Roboraptor has several methods of control: an included remote control, the iOS or Android app or you can turn on autonomous mode to let the dinosaur roam freely around your home. The price is pretty decent at under $100, which means siblings might be able to have one each to play and battle each other. Plus, if I might add, The half robot, half dinosaur design reminds me of those robotic dogs from the 1990s for some reason — ah, the nostalgia.
➤ Buy WowWee Roboraptor X on Amazon ($79.99)
Rover 2.0 Wireless Spy Tank
Something about this toy excites the kid in me. I always loved the idea of being a spy when I was young. Night vision goggles, spy cameras, volume-boosting microphones… I was all for it. The Rover 2.0 is a black and green spy tank with a video camera that includes infrared night-vision. The two-way audio means the controller can speak on one end and someone near the tank can communicate back. You control the tank from your smartphone, discreetly maneuvering it around the house. This even lets you rotate and adjust the camera to get a better view from the iOS device. It roams up to 200 feet away unobstructed or 100 feet with walls and rooms. Parents might have to be a bit more cautious with this thing around though.
➤ Buy Rover 2.0 Wireless Spy Tank on Amazon ($84.99)
Deskpets are small robotic creatures and vehicles that you can control to move around and fire weapons from your iPhone. The great thing about Deskpets is that they’re small enough to collect so kids can get several and pit them against each other for battles. Five toys are available: BattleTank, CarBot, SkitterBot (robotic spider), TankBot and TrekBot. You can also get MazeBot, which is just a maze to place all your Deskpets in for races or battles. Small and perhaps limited in their capabilities compared to the more extravagant and expensive bots, but these Deskpets are the most affordable toys on our list.
➤ Buy Deskpets ($24.95 to $29.95)
Sphero Star Wars BB-8 Robot
The BB-8 robot from Sphero is a must-have gem for Star Wars fans. You control the bot from your iPhone or iPad to move it around, but BB-8 also adapts to the environment. It listens and responds to your voice, moves around and explores the “galaxy” and gets smarter the more time you spend with it. In addition to acting as a remote control, your iOS device lets you record videos with the BB-8 and build a holographic world for the robot to interact with.
➤ Buy Sphero Star Wars BB-8 Robot on Amazon ($129.99)