Roku has announced a new version of its operating system and it brings several new features, some of which have been borrowed from Android TV and Google TV. Roku OS is a smart TV operating system that powers Roku’s own streaming devices and audio products in addition to smart TVs from brands such as TCL, Hisense, and Philips. Some of these manufacturers launch their products in both Android TV/Google TV and Roku TV versions.
Roku competes with other smart TV platforms including Android/Google TV, Amazon‘s Fire TV OS, and Apple‘s tvOS. It has a wide selection of apps, including all of the popular streaming services, and it is preferred by many users for its simplicity. Those who wish to jump to the platform can do so by purchasing any of Roku’s own streaming devices that start at $24.99 and go up to $179.99, or a smart TV running Roku TV with prices ranging from under $200 to as much as $1,000.
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Roku OS 11 is the latest version of the software and will begin to roll out in a few weeks to supported streaming players, TVs running Roku TV, and select audio products. According to a blog post detailing the new features, customization is the focus. The first key addition is Photo Streams which allows users to upload their photos to their streaming device and use them as a screensaver. Android TV and Google TV users will find this familiar considering there is the option to use curated images from Google Photos as the screensaver. Roku doesn’t stop there but adds the option for users to share their uploaded Streams with friends and family members, who not only can view these images on their own devices but add their own images too.
New Audio Tricks And An Improved App
The home screen is getting a new addition called What to Watch which is similar to Google TV’s recommendations. It will display TV shows and movies from different streaming channels including favorites, trending shows and movies, and new titles. The Live TV feature added in January 2022 will also now show previously watched and new content on the home screen menu. While Roku has revealed that Photo Streams and new content recommendations will be exclusive to the U.S., the company’s audio products are also getting some love with the new software update.
With Roku OS 11, users will get an upgraded experience when playing content with dialogue. Roku says audio products will dynamically identify and amplify dialogue so listeners don’t miss a word. This is possible thanks to the new automatic speech clarity setting. Users will also be able to switch between five new sound modes — Standard, Dialogue, Movie, Music, and Night — by pressing the star button on the Roku remote or Roku app. The Roku Voice Remote also gains support for Spanish, German, and Portuguese with the new update, allowing users to use the voice-enabled keyboard in any of these languages.
Speaking of the Roku app, users will also see new visual elements when they search for a movie or TV show. It will highlight which channels are streaming the show or movie for free, or which of their paid subscriptions can be used instead. The app will also show images of the cast and crew of a TV show or movie. Lastly, Roku has added an audio-video sync calibration tool to the mobile app’s settings menu, so users can sync the audio from a speaker to what is on the TV.