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Blu-ray special features coming to App Store

The last to embrace the Blu-ray high definition video format, Universal is poised to become the first to tie home theater with Apple's App Store, bringing companion features to the iPhone and iPod touch.

Home Media Magazine reported Monday that Universal Studios Home Entertainment was prepared to announce the App Store-Blu-ray tie-in, with the first release, the film "Fast & Furious," hitting stores July 28.

"For the first time, iPhone and iPod Touch users will be able to control interactive content on their Web-connected Blu-ray Disc players," the magazine writes. "On subsequent Universal Blu-ray Disc releases coming later in the year, consumers will be able to access bonus content found on their Blu-ray Disc releases and download it onto their iPhone or iPod Touch. They’ll also be able to use the devices as a virtual remote to control their Blu-ray Disc features and access additional information while watching the movie."

The "Fast & Furious" App Store release will include a "Virtual Car Garage" that allows viewers to check out the movie's vehicles in 360 degrees, and to look up car specifications.

The studio announced that future releases will also tie in to Facebook and Twitter to update friends on movie-related activites.

“By harnessing Blu-ray technology and combining it with Apple’s highly acclaimed iPod touch and iPhone, we continue to raise the bar in delivering an array of unprecedented, user-friendly home entertainment experiences,” said Craig Kornblau, president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Universal Pictures Digital Platforms. “Bridging these platforms further broadens the scope of the digital landscape by paving the way for innovative new applications and interactive content enhancements that continue to uniquely engage consumers.”

The App Store has made the iPhone and iPod touch platform a very successful endeavor for Apple. Just last week, as the App Store crossed its one year anniversary, Apple announced that more than 1.5 billion applications had been downloaded from the service.

There are more than 40 million devices capable of accessing the App Store in consumers' hands. The three iPhone models and the iPod Touch serve customers in 77 different countries.