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SoftBank Robotics Corp. said Thursday it has expanded opportunities for app developers to use Google’s Android platform for its humanoid robot Pepper.

It hopes to encourage more programmers to develop apps for the device.

An Android-ready Pepper model will go on sale in July, though only for developers, and on Thursday an Android development toolkit was made available for download, Fumihide Tomizawa, SoftBank Robotics chief, told a news conference at the firm’s headquarters in Tokyo.

Previously, there was a development platform specially designed for Pepper, but it was not based on Android.

Tomizawa said the number of developers could increase 100-fold, as there are only several thousand Pepper app designers but hundreds of thousands of Android coders.

Android is an open-source operating system used for smartphones and tablets. Android apps are available from the online digital distribution platform store Google Play. Developers who create their own apps can publish them through the store.

SoftBank said by collaborating with Android, Pepper will become more convenient, as people will be able to run Android apps such as Gmail and Google Maps on a tablet-style screen attached to the robot’s chest.

The Android-ready Pepper model for consumers will be available sometime this fiscal year. The existing model will be updated.

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