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Roku OS 11 allows your photos to be screensavers

Roku today announced that Roku OS 11 will be headed to devices in the coming weeks, with the semiannual update cycle bringing new features and modes — and a pretty big improvement to screensavers.

Roku Photo Streams will allow you to use your own photos (or someone else’s photos, presumably) to replace the somewhat cartoonish themes the Roku screensavers have had over the years. It’s not that they were bad, but they definitely lacked the sophistication and photorealism that Apple, Google and Amazon have brought to the game, which very much turned your idle TV into a digital art piece.

With Roku Photo Streams, you’ll upload images to your Roku device either via your computer or phone. And you can share Streams with other Roku users, making it easy to make screensaver albums for friends and family. And once you share a Stream, the other person can add photos to it, too.

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Press rendering of Roku Photo Streams.

“At Roku, we are laser-focused on tailoring the streaming and visual experience to fit our customers’ personal preferences,” Gidon Katz, senior vice president of product and experience at Roku, said in a press release. “We recognize not everyone interacts with their TV in the same way, so we are proud to offer a platform full of choice, while simultaneously providing our users an easy-to-use experience. With Roku OS 11, we’re offering a platform with new personalized updates across search, audio, and content discovery, along with a new feature that allows our customers to display and even share photo albums through Roku devices.”

Roku Photo Streams is the big addition. But it’s far from the only one.

On the audio side of things, there will be new modes for sound and speech clarity, which “dynamically identify and amplify dialogue so you don’t miss a word.” There also will be new modes for Roku Streamers and Roku Speakers, including Standard, Dialogue, Movie, Music, and Night. And a new A/V Sync function helps make sure what you see matches up with what you hear.

Content discovery is getting a boost, too. “What To Watch” gets its own spot on the Roku home menu, helping you find something to watch even quicker.

Device setup will now get even easier, thanks to a voice-enabled keyboard. You’ll be able to enter email addresses, passwords, and PIN information by speaking — now in Spanish, German and Portuguese.

The Roku mobile app also will get a bit of a bump with this OS update, with better details about available content, making it even easier to figure out where to watch things.

Roku OS 11 will start to push in the coming weeks. It generally will hit Roku players first, followed by Roku TVs.

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