Sky TV’s new iPad remote control is a blank slate, literally

News Corp’s part-owned UK pay-TV leader BSkyB has become the latest to turn the tablet in to a remote control killer.

Its existing Sky+ iPad app already let its 4.3 million Sky+HD subscribers schedule set top box recordings over the cloud from any location via its on-screen EPG.

Now an updated version of the app released on Wednesday adds same-room TV control including pause, rewind and fast-forward of the Sky+HD set top box; channel changing and recording management.

This is just an increment in Sky’s second-screen developments. In a few months’ time, the app will be injected with social TV functionality from Zeebox, the promising startup in which BSkyB invested this January.

The interesting remote UI introduction today is that the majority of those new features involve not on-screen virtual buttons or sliders but simple finger swiping across an otherwise blank iPad screen.

This may make it easier for some folk who don’t comprehend a wealth of interface options, but the lack of interaction prompts may also pose a challenge.

The main technical challenge, however, is that both the iPad and the Sky+HD box must be on the same broadband network. Sky’s TV boxes are Ethernet- but not WiFi-enabled. Marrying the devices requires an additional £60 Wireless Connector bridge to the TV box, or some homeplugs.

BSkyB rival Virgin Media has taken almost two years so far in developing the iPad remote control app for its TiVo set top box. paidContent reported in March that the app was essentially ready but Virgin feared consumer network confusion – its TiVo boxes also do not have the necessary WiFi functionality.