Roku is ushering in Roku OS 9.3, a new operating system focused on helping customers find their content faster, to its streaming devices in the coming weeks.
Roku announced the new OS on March 31, and it’s set to roll out “in the coming weeks,” according to a press release. Among the new features, the update includes Roku Voice enhancements, improvements to overall performance, and new customization options.
Roku didn’t give a specific release date, saying OS 9.3 will start rolling out to select Roku Players “next month,” and will be heading to all streaming players in the coming weeks. Roku TV models, according to the press release, will get the update “in phases over the coming months.”
Roku Voice enhancements get the most attention with this update. For instance, Roku is adding Spanish language support for Roku owners in Mexico and the U.S. Essentially, you can speak commands in Spanish in order to launch channels, perform searches, or control media playback.
Results when searching by voice will also be presented from a visual perspective, with categorized rows that include relevant movies, shows, and short-form entertainment to help viewers find what they’re looking for more quickly. You can also say a phrase like “show me the news” and your Roku device will direct you to a “Roku Zone filled with available news channels.”
More than 50 streaming channels will now support direct playback when using Roku Voice. On the international front, Roku Voice is adding the ability to speak more natural phrases to search for content in Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. Canada, the U.K., and Mexico will also benefit from Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support.
While it is very voice-oriented, Roku OS 9.3 does have plenty of other new features. The operating system will allow for better customization, with wallpapers and screensavers being accessible from a single “theme” menu in the settings tab. Performance gets a boost, too, with lower boot times, faster launch times for certain channels, a more responsive home screen, and quicker navigation when using certain features.
Audio, specifically Roku’s Smart Soundbar and Roku TV connectivity, will also get some help. You will also now be able to access more soundbar settings directly from the TV interface, meaning you won’t have to toggle between different menus or use multiple remotes. And, in the Roku TV Settings Menu, you will be able to pair an external device like a mobile phone to a Roku Smart Soundbar for audio playback. Or, you’ll be able to pair Roku’s wireless subwoofer or wireless rear speakers via the settings menu to enjoy full surround sound.
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