While BB-8 can be controlled with an iPhone, it also comes with a patrol mode that allows the droid to roam around by himself. Users can also design their own routes and have BB-8 follow them. Additionally, Sphero says BB-8 has an "adaptive personality" and his "attitude" and actions will evolve the more a user interacts with him. BB-8 can also receive voice commands via the app, which means that a user can say "move forward" and BB-8 will move forward.
While Sphero developed this version of BB-8 as a connected toy, the company was instrumental in the development of the BB-8 droid used in the actual movie. The company was a part of Disney's accelerator program and was paired with Disney CEO Bob Iger as its mentor. When Iger visited with Sphero to see the robotic ball they were working on, he realized the technology could be used for BB-8, who at the time was still being designed. He connected Sphero to the filmmakers and special effects people behind the film and they collaborated on the real BB-8, which was shown off at the Star Wars Celebration convention in May.
The toy version of BB-8 will go on sale on September 4, 2015 as a part of "Force Friday," which is when toys and merchandise from "The Force Awakens" officially go on sale. BB-8 will be available for $149.99 at Sphero.com and Apple Stores.