Sony aibo robot dog gets whimsical features in new major update

Sony has released a major software update in the US and Japan for its aibo robotic dog, the company has announced. Software version 2.50 is made for the ERS1000 aibo model, bringing 'whimsical' capabilities that include the ability to potty train the dog, feed it virtual cookies, and other fun things. As well, the robot dog also has a new web-based API with visual programming for beginners.

The new Visual Programming feature joins the more advanced Developer Program, which is targeted at developers. With Visual Programming, beginners don't need to know a programming language; the work is done graphically with block illustrations. This is similar to the programming tools used to teach in many schools.

All aibo owners can use the Visual Programming from a PC. Users can program the robotic puppy to conduct certain movements, such as walking or shaking it head, as well as more advanced things like changing its behavior when it sees certain objects or people. Sony provides sample projects to help new users figure out way to program the companion.

In addition, the smartphone app enables users to virtually feed aibo using the related smartphone app. Users can tell aibo to wait for its meal or to 'dig in' whenever they'd like. Users can check the aibo smartphone app to view a free 'meal starter pack,' according to Sony, which explains the mealtime feature on its website here.

The Food feature is free with the use of 'bonus coins,' which Sony says can be used to get meals that it calls 'aibocrisps.' These bonus coins are earned by signing into the app at certain times and during special events, though there's also the option of purchasing them for users who aren't adverse to microtransactions.