Alongside an updated Roku Express streaming stick, Roku today revealed a new software update that will soon roll out to all its TVs and streaming boxes. It might be the most significant update to Roku TVs and streaming players in years.
The Roku home screen hasn’t changed since the start of the platform — there’s a grid of channel icons, representing different streaming services and media sources, as well as other pages with featured free and paid content. That’s now changing, as Roku is updating the “What to Watch” page with quick shortcuts to continue watching movies and TV shows you were previously playing. You’ll also be able to save movies and shows from your Roku player or the Roku mobile app to watch later, like a TV version of adding a game to your Steam wishlist.
Quick shortcuts to resume playback is something that Android TV/Google TV, Fire OS, and other smart TV platforms have offered for a while, so it’s great to see Roku finally catch up to the competition. The company says content from HBO Max, Netflix, Paramount+, and The Roku Channel will be supported at first, with “more channels to come.”
There will also be another area of the home screen called “The Buzz,” which the company says will include a “frequently updated collection of posts featuring entertainment-centric, short-form content from popular streaming services and entertainment brands, such as AMC+, Apple TV+, BET+, Crackle, Hallmark Movies Now, IGN, Plex, Popcornflix, SHOWTIME, Starz, The CW, Tubi, Vevo, and Wondrium, with more to come.” It sounds like something like the stories page in Snapchat, but hopefully with less garbage.
Roku OS 11.5 will include many other smaller changes, including a live TV guide button in the Roku app remote, categories in the live TV channel guide, improved voice control, and an updated Roku store. Finally, support for Bluetooth headphones is coming to the Roku Ultra, Roku Streambar, and Roku Streambar Pro.
Roku says the Roku OS 11.5 update will roll out to supported devices “in the coming months.” Some of the features will arrive independently of a full system update.
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