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‘Secret’ update adds Netflix remote controls to your smartphone

Netflix PlayStation 3

An update recently hit the iOS and Android iterations of the Netflix app that seemed to simply offer stability improvements and boosts to the program’s overall functionality. That’s always welcome, but this particular update also included a new feature for the app that, for whatever reason, the developers at Netflix completely failed to mention: Specifically, this update allows users to control the PlayStation 3′s Netflix app from the comfort of their mobile phone of choice.

Here’s how it works: Assuming you have all the necessary hardware (a PlayStation 3, iOS or Android phone, and a wireless, Internet-enabled network), you simply start the Netflix app on your mobile phone as well as the PS3 version of the app, select a video on your phone, then choose whether you’d rather watch the program on your handheld or on the PlayStation 3. Obviously this only works as long as the two devices are connected by the same wireless network, but assuming you can manage that it’s quite simple to use your iPhone or Android device as a makeshift remote control.

More crucially, it’s also far more practical than using the PlayStation 3′s Netflix app as it was originally designed. Though the home console iterations of Netflix are functional and allow you to watch the service’s many streaming programs on your local HDTV, they lack truly robust search and account management functions. The iOS/Android app however, is far more akin to the PC/Mac version of Netflix and makes searching through the company’s thousands of movies and TV shows as simple as swiping your finger or tapping out a few characters to prompt a text search.

The video embedded at the bottom of this post comes courtesy of Engadget, and since the developers of the Netflix app made no mention of this new feature in any of the update’s official documentation, it is the first anyone heard of the extra functionality. As you can see in the clip, it’s very simple, and seems like the kind of thing Netflix would want to promote, so we really can’t come up with any solid reason why it was such a stealthy addition. So far we’ve heard no reports of instability in this new feature causing massive issues with people attempting to watch their favorite shows, so while we enjoy the newly communicative relationship between our phones and PlayStation 3s, we’ll have to continue wondering why Netflix never mentioned this aspect of the update.