Amanda Vaden
Laptop and tablet with Sphero Edu update.

The Sphero Edu app has big new updates

The Sphero Edu app is getting some fancy updates, including updating our blocks canvas to be built on the Scratch open-source code base. That changes a few things for existing users that are familiar with our block programming canvas, so we want to make sure you understand our reasons for this change and know that we’re ready to support any questions or concerns you’ve got for us. We want everyone to have the best learning experience possible, so let’s get right to it.

Scratch: The what and why

In 2007, three years before Sphero was founded, the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab released the first version of the Scratch block-based programming language and online community. Fast forward to 2018 and it’s now the most popular block programming language in the world with over 28,000,000 users. Scratch recently made it even easier for developers (like Sphero) to use the Scratch code base and adapt their block programming tool for their own projects, and so we have redesigned our blocks canvas and based it on their open-source library. However, Sphero robots are not integrated in the Scratch online community, this update is only in the Sphero Edu app.

Our team made sure to Sphero-ize the Scratch interface by making the layout and blocks similar to our existing design, and by adding improvements like touch friendly screens, new sensor diagrams, and doubling our sound library to make sure it’s all perfect for programming our robots.

For users already familiar with our blocks canvas, we’ve got you covered. While there are a few slight changes, the program functionality and blocks are essentially the same. Check out our tutorial video to see all of the updates, and view our updated blocks series activity videos that now match the new format. Also, if you have existing programs, they will instantly be migrated to the new format when you open them in the app… meaning you won’t lose any work.

What else is new?

Existing Sphero Edu users will feel right at home with the same basic layout, but will be delighted to find new features like:

  • Undo/redo — If you make a mistake you can undo it, and then redo it.
  • Zoom — Zoom in and out of the blocks canvas to get a closer look at your program.
  • Consolidated blocks — Operators and comparators are consolidated to fewer blocks using drop-downs.
  • Trigonometry functions — New math functions have been added to the operator’s category.
  • Simplified function and variable wizard — Make and manage variables and functions with ease.
  • Distance Sensor — We added a “distance” sensor so you can write logic on how far your robot rolls.
  • Updated Activity videos — Blocks 1–4 videos have been updated to match the new canvas format.
  • Integrated Instructions — On the website and Chrome App, there is now an integrated view showing Activity instructions right next to the canvas. This feature is coming to the mobile apps in the fall. You can also view and edit programs directly through the browser without downloading the chrome app.

New Global Greatness

We’re always trying to provide the best experience for our international users, so we added 2 new features to make life a bit easier for you.

Translated Programs & Activities

All Programs and Activities are now dynamically translated as soon as they are published, requiring no extra work from you. Just set your app OS language and you will see all titles, descriptions and activity steps in your local language. Videos are not localized, but if you are on the website or chrome app you can use the settings button in the youtube player to add subtitles in any language.

We currently support 14 languages: Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Spanish (Mexico), Spanish (Spain), and Swedish.

Blocks Canvas RTL Support

For Arabic and Hebrew speakers, our blocks canvas now supports right-to-left alignment, so long as your device language is set to one of those languages.

So happy programming! Or… Bonne programmation! Rröhliche Programmierung! Programación feliz! 幸せなプログラミング!

AND one last thing….

Mac compatibility is now available! We are hoping to have Windows compatibility in September… making Sphero Edu compatible with almost any device. Be on the lookout for those updates later this summer.

Update the app to version 5.0 to see it all in action on iOS, Android, Kindle or Chrome, and get back to enjoying some fun in the sun. ☀️🏖