Physical Apps released its foam ball smartphone accessory at Toy Fair 2012 in New York this week, and we took the opportunity to play with the strange toy. It's called TheO, and it's about as simple as it gets — it's a soccer-ball size foam ball with a large slot in it that you can stuff your iPhone, iPod touch, or Android device into. Once you get your phone in there, it's pretty much indestructible (so long as you avoid water), and you can load up an accelerometer-based game and start playing your smartphone apps — physically.
A specially-made bowling app was on display — you stand up as if you're bowling, move the ball side-to-side to aim, and once you're ready you click your phone's screen and bowl TheO (and your smartphone ensconced within it). You can hook up your phone to an iPad or a smart TV if they're both on the same Wi-Fi network and use the extra screen as your monitor. It's a bit Wii-like in action, but this ball will run you $24.95 when it comes out in May. Other than bowling, there's a hot potato game that will see you (or your kids) tossing your precious smartphone in a digitally-enhanced version of the classic, and there's another title called Interrogo that's being described as a "socially interactive game." We're not sure what that means, but all three will be included with TheO, and we were told that many other titles are being developed for both iOS and Android that'll run anywhere from $1.99 to $4.99 each.
The version we saw in action today was just a prototype, but it seemed to run smoothly enough: there's about a second-or-so delay between your input and action on the screen. Oh, if one thing's for sure it's that you won't be able to get a device with a massive screen like the Galaxy Nexus in there, though you'll probably be safe with a 3.5 to 4.0-inch phone.