Bring a portable Bluetooth speaker to a party and you get to be master of the tunes—but pretty soon everybody wants to pick the next song. Ultimate Ears’ new feature for its latest speakers lets you share DJ duties without passing your phone around or losing control of the playlist.
Available now through the latest version of its free app, Block Party lets up to three people connect to one speaker at the same time. In the app, you control whose playlist is heard, and switch among them as you want. And it doesn’t matter if other people use Spotify, Apple Music, Rdio, or any other music service -- if they can play the music on their device, you can hear it on the speaker. The other music sources don’t have to download the UE app, either—they just need to pair with the speaker via Bluetooth.
The feature is a free upgrade for UE Megaboom, Boom 2 and Roll owners through the iOS and Android app for each speaker. To access it, launch the UE app, swipe to the left and press + to start the Block Party feature. In testing, I had no problem getting three different devices—two iOS and one Android—to connect to the speaker at the same time.
You see each device and the song currently playing on it. To switch the speaker to a different source, touch the device name. You can also skip ahead to the next song on a person’s playlist, though there’s no way to see what that song will be.
Block Party is similar to Social Mode on some of JBL’s Bluetooth speakers, such as the Charge 2+. However, the UE version includes the visual interface through the app, which lets one person control who gets access to the speaker next. The JBL implementation switches to whoever starts playing a new song most recently.
Other additions to UE's app include options for connecting two speakers together and adjusting the EQ. The latest upgrade also brings tap controls to the Megaboom—a feature previously only available on the Boom 2. Touch the top once to pause playback, tap twice to skip to the next song.
The Block Party is a nice add-on to UE’s already impressive mobile app. Everybody loves to share their favorite songs for their friends, and this makes it easy to do—without worrying about somebody dropping your phone.