Universal Media announced awhile ago that it would be introducing iPhone control into some of its Blu-ray titles, starting with “Fast & Furious,” the Vin Diesel/Paul Walker romp that saw the lucrative car racing series return to its humble origins. Now, Universal is extending the iPhone/Blu-ray connection to a much wider swath of its library thanks to “pocket BLU,” a new app for Apple’s handheld devices.
pocket BLU is a free download from the App Store that allows your iPhone to become a remote control for operating Blu-ray discs from Universal. It won’t work with just any movie, of course. Blu-ray discs need to be played using a Wi-Fi connected player, for one, and the title has to be specifically enabled to work with pocket BLU, something which will be indicated by a conspicuously placed logo.
The app will allow you to control playback of the film, and jump backwards and forwards to any point in the movie using a visual time line. You’ll also have access to a pop-up keyboard for entering data, which will definitely make any typing you need to do with your Blu-ray movie much easier. Finally, some titles will offer the ability to stream special content from the disc to your iPhone, which can then be stored for later viewing.
The app has promise, but limited as it is to one major distributor’s titles, it feels a little like yet another extraneous feature designed to add value to a format that’s failing to catch on with most consumers. Chances are, I’m never going to watch or care about the additional features included for pocket BLU users anyway, so why not just stick to playing back digital content on my Mac and using Rowmote or VLC Remote to control it? Take it from me, Universal, you’ll be far better off if you focus on delivering content to the iPhone platform, instead of just control mechanisms.