App-controlled toys aren’t really a new thing by any stretch of the imagination, as if you wind the clocks back to 2011 you’ll find us posting about all sorts of ’em. The main difference here is that previous-generation iOS-controlled toys almost always required an ultra-clunky accessory you jammed in your headphone port to convert the app’s output to infrared signals. The downfall of almost all of the toys I tested was that they both required line of sight and usually just didn’t work that well- Even under ideal conditions.
Next-generation app-controlled toys seem to be solving that problem by finally implementing Bluetooth 4.0 as a control method. Bluetooth 4.0 has come standard on every iOS device after the iPhone 4S, and aside from using almost no battery, it has much greater range than infrared and doesn’t require line as sight. Additionally, being a two way communication channel developers can do all sorts of neat things that weren’t possible before.
For instance, with Griffin’s new MOTO TC Rally RC car, the MOTO TC Rally app (Free) actively communicates with the RC car allowing players to tweak its performance on the fly and play multiplayer games with other people who also have their own MOTO TC Rally car. The “Bump ‘n Run" mode in specific sounds really sweet, as when you crash into your real-world opponent you change how their car handles by trading virtual damage.
I’m all about these sorts of real-world games and smart toys, particularly as they gain features that are actually super cool instead of just feeling like massive gimmicks. The MOTO TC Rally car is sold directly from Griffin for $99.99, which seems to be pretty in line with what a nice RC car will run you these days.