Roku products across the spectrum will be getting a boost with the latest operating system update. A good TV device is all about two things. Software and hardware. The ability to upgrade an experience without having to order a new box or dongle makes a big difference for the longevity of the experience of any product. Roku, which announced some new products today, made bigger news with a massive facelift for its operating system. The impact will affect multiple types of Roku products adding better sound clarity to Roku’s original soundbar and the new Soundbar pro, which will ship with the upgraded remote, an automatic game mode to Roku powered TVs and a new feature to help users identify the best WiFi network in their home. New features also include bringing Apple AirPlay 2 to more devices. The integration of Apple’s mirroring technology makes Roku’s line of products much more versatile because it allows users to put more content than ever on their TVs.
But the biggest new change for Roku is the introduction of full voice operation using its new remote controller. While Roku has offered voice control for some time now, users were always required to press a button on the remote in order to use it. A new update will now allow users who have Roku’s updated remote to ask the device to launch channels, change the volume, and more. Users will also be able to use voice commands to find the remote if it is lost, as long as it isn’t left in the refrigerator or somewhere else where the mic won’t pick up. Don’t judge. Most of the time my remote has slipped in a blanket fold. Roku fans need only say “Hey Roku” and the new mic, which is the type found in other smart speakers will be activated and follow your command. Important note on this feature though. The commands are still Roku-based. This means that you can’t ask it for the weather or to order your lunch.
As for Roku stuff, which means watching TV the update brings what should be a very popular feature called Instant Resume. A selection of apps, which is sure to grow will now allow users to jump back into whatever they were watching last. It’s a throwback to physical media. Remember when you stopped DVDs and started them again later? Now you will be able to do that with more apps.
- Apple AirPlay 2 & HomeKit – In addition to select 4K Roku devices, Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit will now also be available on HD Roku streaming devices, such as the Roku Express, and select HD Roku TV models. With AirPlay 2, Roku customers can effortlessly stream, control and share their favorite content directly from their iPhone, iPad or Mac to compatible Roku devices, bringing the experience to the big screen. Compatible Roku devices also support HomeKit, which allows users to easily and securely control Roku devices using Siri or the Home app on their Apple devices.
- Instant Resume – This feature helps users get back to the content they were watching within supported channels faster. With Instant Resume, when users launch a channel again, reload times will be much quicker and they will be taken back to the place where they last left off for a much faster, smoother experience. Instant resume will be supported on 15+ streaming channels including AT&T TV, FilmRise, FOX Business Network, FOX News Channel, Fubo Sports Network, HappyKids TV, Plex.tv, STARZ, The Roku Channel, with more to come.
- Customizing the Live TV Channel Guide (US) – Within the Live TV Channel Guide, users now have more options to tailor their experience including the ability to hide individual channels from view and the ability to add channels to a favorites list for a custom guide view that gives them convenient, easy access to the channels they love. Users can quickly switch between guide views to see their favorites, recently visited, or all channels.
SIMPLIFYING SET UP
- Automatic Wi-Fi® Network Detection – The new automatic network detection feature notifies Roku users of the optimal wireless network band to connect to in their homes so they can enjoy the best possible streaming experience. Roku devices will recommend the optimal wireless network during connection setup and when there is a better network connection available in the user’s home, the Roku device will proactively display a prompt recommending that the user connect to that network for an improved experience.
- Automatic Game Console Configuration – For gamers who are Roku TV users, this feature will automatically detect select game consoles and configure supported features to optimize the TV’s performance for playing video games. When a supported game console is connected to an HDMI®port on a Roku TV, the input tile on the user’s Roku home screen will automatically change to the game console icon for easy identification so users can jump right into gaming. Additionally, the Roku TV will detect the capabilities of the game console and automatically enables settings like Game Mode, which offers the lowest latency picture for a more responsive display and optimal gaming experience. It will also enable advanced features to enhance usability and picture quality for game consoles connected via HDMI. Depending on the Roku TV model being used, settings that get automatically configured may include HDR gaming, Auto Low-Latency Mode, Variable Refresh Rate, High Frame Rate, and THX Certified Game Mode.
- Voice entry for select on-screen keyboards (US) – Roku Voice can now be used with a variety of on-screen keyboards, giving users more convenience and speed when entering information on their Roku device. Keyboards that support Roku Voice will display a microphone icon, so users can quickly identify if voice entry is an available option.
Additional Roku OS 10 features include:
- HDR10+ Support – HDR 10+ enables dynamic metadata that continuously enhances display settings, so users see the most vivid and brilliant colors throughout the HDR10+ content streaming experience. Roku devices will automatically detect HDR10+ TV compatibility during setup or users can configure the Display type within the Settings menu. HDR 10+ will be available on Roku Ultra (2020), Roku Express 4K, and Roku Express 4K+.
- Virtual Surround – Roku Smart Soundbar and Roku Streambar™ Pro owners will be able to enjoy a rich and immersive sound experience with the new “Virtual Surround” setting. This setting creates spacious sound that moves around the room for an enhanced audio experience. Access this new setting by pressing the “*” button on the Roku remote to access the Sound settings menu, or by accessing the Audio menu within Settings on their device.
- Improvements to visual search results for Roku Voice – Users who initiate a voice search while within a streaming channel can now experience a more visual and convenient way to browse Roku Search results without disrupting their viewing experience. Results will be displayed in a partial overlay with content from the active channel in the first row, followed by rows of other matches from elsewhere on the platform, providing users with the full breadth of results to choose from, ordered by the best possible match.