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Roku adds AirPlay 2, HomeKit to select 4K devices

Roku announced that it would begin updating select 4K Roku devices with Apple’s AirPlay 2 and HomeKit technologies, giving Apple owners new ways to interact with the popular streaming media players.

The update, which is part of the Roku OS 9.4  software, will be added to the Roku Ultra, Roku Streambar, Roku Smart Soundbar, Roku Streaming Stick+, and Roku Premiere as part of the first wave. Roku TV owners can expect to get AirPlay 2 and HomeKit as well when Roku OS 9.4 is added to their TVs, which Roku says will happen “in phases over the coming weeks.”

Roku claims that this update makes its devices the first to be compatible with all three major voice assistant platforms: Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and now (through HomeKit) Siri.

With the addition of AirPlay 2 and HomeKit, the updated Roku devices become even more attractive to Apple owners who may have been considering the purchase of an Apple TV 4K. Apple’s 4K streamer starts at $180 for the base model. A new $100 Roku Ultra, once updated with Apple’s technologies, will be able to do almost everything an Apple TV 4K can do, for a lot less money.

AirPlay 2 is the wireless transmission system that lets Apple devices send streaming media to a compatible playback device. AirPlay 2 speakers can receive audio, while AirPlay 2 streaming media devices and smart TVs can receive both audio and video.  It can also be used to mirror the full content of an Apple device’s display.

Roku’s app for iOS has always enabled a small version of this feature set. It can be used to stream audio, video, and photos that are stored locally on an iOS device, but you can’t use it to mirror the screen or to cast content from third-party apps like Netflix, YouTube, or Disney+.

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Simon Cohen
Contributing Editor, A/V
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like spatial…
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