- December 28, 2016
- Posted by: Kerry Tomlinson, Archer News
- Categories: Archer News, Mobile Devices, Posts with image, Robotics
Some parents report that the talking Furby Connect failed to thrive on Christmas Day.
***Updated with statement from Hasbro at 2:53 pm, December 28.***
For many a child this year, a fuzzy Grinch sat waiting for them under the tree.
It was a brightly-colored Furby Connect, offering songs and funny noises and laughter all around.
But as the gift wrap piled up in the corner of the living room, some sugar-plum visions dissolved into tears. For some, the new Furby refused to do what his name promised—connect, or stay connected.
“Worked fine until we tried to connect to the app,” wrote a parent online. “Now Furby won’t stay on over a minute. So heartbreaking for my little girl and a waste of $99. Thanks for ruining Christmas!”
Parents posted complaints about Furby Connect on the app on the Google Play store.
There are plenty of comments—sad or angry—posted on December 25 and after this year.
“Cute toy that will break your kids’ heart on Christmas morning!” said one.
“Not a happy GRANDMA,” said another.
Some reported the Furby app would get stuck at 70%, or the app crashing at the same point again and again. Some said the Bluetooth would not connect, even if they had the right phone or tablet.
How many gift givers saw their furry interactive present remain lifeless or die in front of their eyes?
It’s hard to say. But the numbers show more than 10,000 people asked the Internet for answers about why Furby Connect won’t connect on December 25, 26 and 27 and landed on an Archer News story about this very same problem.
“Won’t connect to Furby Connect app, kind of the point of it,” wrote an unhappy reviewer on Amazon. “DO NOT BUY.”
Archer News asked Hasbro for information about the complaints. Hasbro is working on providing a response, according to a Hasbro representative.
Updated with Hasbro statement at 2:53 pm, December 28:
“We are committed to delivering fun and engaging play experiences to all consumers who received Hasbro toys for the holidays, including Furby Connect. There may be a number of factors affecting connectivity, such as the specific device being used, and consumers are advised to contact the Hasbro Consumer Care team to help troubleshoot any challenges: http://www.hasbro.com/en-ca/worldwide.” (See also http://corporate.hasbro.com/en-us/consumer-care for U.S. inquiries)
Parents posted questions and complaints about Furby Connect on the Furby Facebook page.
What’s wrong with Furby?
Reviews show the Furby Connect did come to life for many families, bringing the holiday joy that some young ones anticipated.
“My boys 4 and 6 years old love their furbies,” wrote a mom on Amazon.
For some of those who did indeed connect, the warbling, plush creature is a little too lifelike.
“Annoying as hell. Crude, loud and eats AA batteries for fun,” said a parent. “No volume switch and never stops farting and throwing up. Yes, it is in fact like having a baby again!”
“Be warned, this toy is full of toilet humour!” said another. “He burps, farts, (then tells you that it was a ‘squishy’ one) a LOT!”
“And, of course, there is a toilet in the app to hold him over, where he grunts, strains, and poops out ‘treasure,’” the post continued. “You can also send food to him via a cannon in the app, but give him something that he doesn’t like, and he will throw up, which means that you then have to ‘clean’ the screen of your device.”
The teal Furby Connect. Photo: Business Wire.
All these bodily functions can make things complex, said Doug Jacobson, director of the Iowa State University Information Assurance Center.
“It’s a complicated app to make this fuzzy thing to talk to your phone,” he told Archer News.
And Bluetooth doesn’t always work well, he explained.
“With Bluetooth, it’s hard enough sometimes to get your wireless speakers to work with your phone or your car. But now you’re talking about this inanimate object communicating with the app and being able to throw up and go potty on the app,” Jacobson said.
Some reviewers described the Furby app as glitchy, buggy, erratic and even abysmal.
“Hasbro… you need to fix your app,” an unhappy reviewer wrote.
Some of the reported issues should have shown up before the app’s launch, according to software developer Younis Dar of HealthSparq.
“An app consistently crashing at the same point should have been caught in the QA [quality assurance]-Testing phase,” he said. “It’s not conclusive if it’s a hardware or software problem; either way it seems like an apparent bug.”
The Furby team is answering customers posting complaints on its Facebook page after the Christmas holiday.
New apps often have bugs, according to Jacobson. “Version one never works. Of anything.”
Bugs may sneak through company testing, according to Jacobson.
“Think of computer bugs as sort of a needle in a haystack, and if you have ten people pulling hay out. They’re probably not going to find it,” he said.
“Now probably release it to hundreds and thousands—maybe they sold a million of them—the odds are that some percentage of that are going to find that needle, just because there are more of them,” he added.
History of connection issues
This is not Furby Connect’s first brush with unhappiness.
In July, Archer News reported on another wave of disappointment from families trying unsuccessfully to connect their new, fluffy toy or keep it connected.
At the time, Hasbro said it recommended that customers check to make sure their device will actually work with the toy, as well as update both their device and their Furby Connect before using them.
“To do so, consumers should first check the Amazon App Store, Google Play, or Apple App Store to make sure their device is on the supported device list, and confirm their operating system meets the minimum specifications for the Furby Connect app,” Hasbro said in a statement to Archer News.
“Then, we recommend consumers ‘hard reset’ their Furby Connect before trying to connect with the app,” the statement continued. “Once reset, pair Furby with your device to update Furby Connect via Bluetooth (a one-time update that may take some time)—you’ll know the update is complete when Furby re-boots and says to you, ‘CONNECTED!’”
Customers posted Facebook complaints about Furby Connect on Christmas.
Whose fault is it?
Who is to blame for the December disconnect of 2016—the glitch that stole Christmas—possibly as many as 10,000 customers strong?
Hasbro’s statement from July seems to indicate that the customer is at fault for not updating their phone or tablet, or for not doing a hard reset on their silky, electronic companion.
But Jacobson and Dar don’t think the company should hold customers fully responsible.
“I’m not going to place it on the user,” said Jacobson. “If your target audience is the general public, then you have to write software that the general public can use.”
“The company should not resolve the issue as the customers’ fault,” said Dar. “That’s just poor UX [user experience design].”
“The company should be trying to either prove that the product works as expected or acknowledge the issue and communicate the bug fix timeline,” he added.
“Tongue & tail”
Some customers reported eventual success when they fiddled with their devices or tried multiple phones or tablets.
“After hours of crying kids I finally got them to connect by clearing the app cache and data and restarting my tablet,” said one father. “These things are cute but have really bad quality problems.”
Others tried the Hasbro-recommended “tongue and tail” method to reset their pettable toy—turn the Furby upside down, push down on its tongue, pull its tail for ten seconds and uninstall/reinstall the app.
Hasbro offers other troubleshooting tips as well.
—Does your Furby Connect seem sleepier than usual? If you haven’t connected to the app yet, please connect for an update. If you’ve already done that, try giving your Furby Connect fresh batteries!
—If Furby Connect has trouble pairing with your device, first make sure the icon in the top left corner of the app is yellow. If it isn’t, click the purple icon to connect.
The Furby Connect World app is available on Google Play.
Of course, this is not the first time a child has experienced disappointment over a Christmas toy that didn’t work as hoped.
But this kind of animatronic creature may bring more anxiety than another toy that does not talk, sing and interact with children, Jacobson suggested.
“We’re starting to give living characteristics to these things,” he said. “It’s one thing to have Candy Crush glitch or whatever the new game of the week is, but it’s another thing to have what seems to be this ‘live’ thing now all of a sudden act dead.”
He remembered when his young daughter received a Tamagotchi, an electronic, egg-shaped virtual pet that needed to be fed and cared for.
“I don’t think it lasted a day before she killed it. And you couldn’t get it back. This was a kid who never cried, but was crying when her digital thing died,” he recalled. “This sets a different bar for expectations.”
The Furby Connect has its own protected Twitter page with 21,000 followers.
As we roll into the New Year, many families may be enjoying their Furby Connects without issue.
“My six-year old niece loves this toy with a glorious, unadulterated passion,” wrote a reviewer on Amazon. “My status in the uncle stakes has skyrocketed.”
But for those who struggled to connect, the days after Christmas may include asking Hasbro for help on the Furby Facebook page, returning the “highly stroke-able” toy to the seller, and/or explaining to their child why Furby may never wake up again.
“For 100 bucks each, this should not be an issue. Super disappointed,” wrote a reviewer on the Google Play store.
“The toy looked so cute and interesting and had such great potential, but it is just sadly a product brought to market too soon, where the app just isn’t good enough and the toy without the app is just another silly, battery-guzzling electronic annoyance that makes me want to put its eye-mask back on just to send it back into sleep mode,” another disappointed reviewer concluded.
Featured image: Photo: Business Wire