Roku today took the wraps off its Roku OS 10.5 update, which is full of all kinds of things that you’re going to want to get your hands (and eyes and ears) on just as soon as you can. It’ll push out “in the coming weeks,” Roku says, which perhaps tempers that excitement just a tad. Among the changes: Roku streaming players will no longer get an update months before Roku TVs.
“The Roku OS is purpose-built for streaming TV, and our laser focus enables us to deliver updates that have an impact and make streaming easier for our wide variety of customers,” Ilya Asnis, senior vice president of Roku OS, said in a press release. “With Roku OS 10.5, consumers who want to use their voice can now access new features and ways to get to content quickly.
Also new today is the Roku Streaming Stick 4K and Streaming Stick 4K+, which solidify the midrange of the Roku lineup quite nicely. But for now, let’s talk operating systems and what’s new in Roku OS 10.5.
Probably the biggest change you’ll notice out of the gate is in the Live TV Channel Guide on The Roku Channel. It now sports more than 200 free live channels (of varying degrees of interest and entertainment), and you can now add the Live TV channel directly to your home screen. It’s further proof that advertising-supported channels aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and we all just better get used to it.
All you have to do is search for “Live TV on The Roku Channel” and install it. We recommend using voice search over typing, which is convenient since the Roku OS 10.5 update also expands the number of channels that support voice commands. In fact, it’s now available for just about any channel that’s tied into Roku search — including Netflix and now even Spotify for music.
And to make the voice experience even easier, Roku has beefed up its Voice Help section, which is available in the settings menu. There, you’ll find all sorts of education on what you can say and do — and that goes for using the new Roku Voice Remote Pro as well.
Roku is right up there with its competition in terms of ease of setup, and it’s getting even easier with Roku OS 10.5. You can now use your voice to enter email, password and PIN information, so you don’t have to fumble around with arrows and on-screen keyboards anymore. Not every keyboard supports Roku Voice just yet (which is just a reminder that Roku really needs to standardize on-screen keyboards across the platform). But if it does, you’ll see a microphone icon for when you can speak to input something.
The Roku app on iOS and Android also getting a bit of an overhaul. You’ll now find a new Home tab that gets you quicker access to what Roku thinks is the most important thing. It could be a show or a m movie, or a collection of some kind. (Or maybe something someone paid to have put in front of you!) And there’s also a new “Save List” for you to stash things away to watch later.
You’ll also find a new “Search Music and Podcast” row that does just what it says, including within Spotify. Along with the music integration come new sound settings and speaker integrations, including the ability to combine Roku’s soundbars with the Roku Wireless Speakers as front speakers (previously they could be used as rears), so you can have proper 3.1 or 5.1 surround sound. (That includes the Roku Wireless Subwoofer, too.)
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