(Pocket-lint) - Bandai America has launched a new version of its handheld gadget for kids. It's called Tamagotchi On.

This new version of Tamagotchi comes with smartphone connectivity. It's still a pseudo pet rock that allows owners to care for a virtual pet, by playing with it and cleaning it to make it grow and keep it happy, but this model has been leveled up for modern times. It's bigger, as it runs on AAA batteries. It also hides an IR transmitter, so that the device can communicate with others in a network.

Users will be able to share data and arrange playdates - but the range only goes about a couple inches. This IR feature is quite similar to what the Tamagotchi Connection had in 2004. The new aspect here is that two Tamagotchi Ons can not only wirelessly communicate but also have more interactions, like if you want to send your virtual pet off to visit a friend or even get married.

If they say yes, the two virtual pets will each receive an egg that will hatch and grow into a child. Up to 16 generations of a family can exist on a device at a given time. This feature doesn’t need Wi-Fi to work. And a mobile app, launching later this year, will let you connect with other Tamagotchi Ons worldwide. Bandai has already said it won’t allow kids to talk to anyone they don’t know.


Elsewhere, this new toy is very similar to the Tamagotchi we all fell in love with decades ago. It still has a screen (a colour one now no less, though this was first introduced on a relaunch in 2008). And it still has three buttons for navigating menus, settings, and options, all of which have been expanded. There's several hidden screens now. It can also be attached to a lanyard or keychain.

The new Tamagotchi On, which is arriving twenty-two years after its initial release and about two years after its last revival, will be available starting in July 2019 for $60 - quite a bit more than the old $15 price. But Bandai is hoping its new connectivity features will make it worth it.

Writing by Maggie Tillman.