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Roku adding Bluetooth headphone support in OS 11.5 update

Roku today announced Roku OS 11.5, which promises the addition of a number of features to the home screen and search experience that should make what already is considered to be the easiest streaming experience to be that much more helpful. Those who own one of  three of the best Roku devices will now be able to listen via Bluetooth headphones.

Roku OS 11.5 home screen.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Here’s the deal:

If you’ve got a a Roku Ultra (which is the top Roku “player” streaming device) or a Roku Streambar or Streambar Pro (which packs the Roku experience into a soundbar), the new operating system will allow for “private listening” with Bluetooth headphones. That’s an update to the feature that allows you to listen without disturbing others around you either through headphones connected to the Roku Voice Remote or via the Roku mobile app.

That in and of itself is a fairly big deal, given that you’ll no longer have to connect to some other device first, but it’s really just the tip of the iceberg in what’s headed your way with the 11.5 update.

“We are in the golden age of streaming with more great shows and movies releasing than ever before, which at times we know can be overwhelming,” Preston Smalley, Vice President of Consumer Product at Roku, said in a press release. “By personalizing the way our customers connect with the content they love and offering more ways to discover and access new content to stream or save for later, our users have more tools than ever to watch what they want to with ease.”

All things Roku

Roku The Buzz section.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Home Screen will see a new section call “The Buzz,” which is another portal aimed at getting you into additional content that you might otherwise not have seen. You’ll get “a frequently updated collection of posts featuring entertainment-centric, short-form content from popular streaming services.” Those services will include AMC+, Apple TV+, BET+, Crackle, Hallmark Movies Now, IGN, Plex, Popcornflix, Showtime, Starz, The CW, Tubi, Vevo, and Wondrium, for starters.

There’s also a new “continue watching” feature that should make it easier to pick up where you left off on an individual show or movie, instead of having to hop back into an individual service first, and then find it. It’s not a universal feature, though Roku says that HBO Max, Netflix, Paramount+, and The Roku Channel are on board so far.

If you’re the sort who loves to keep things organized, a new “Save List” will make it easier to create lists of content that you’ll want to watch later. Like the “continue watching” feature, it’ll be found in the “What to Watch” section of the Home Screen.

Still need more new features? How about:

  • The addition of “Roku Store” on the home screen, aiming to add a single place to browse, search, and add free and paid channels to your devices
  • An update to Roku voice control that adds an on-screen component showing channel options relative to your search
  • Categories added to the live TV guide for a more personalized experience
  • A live TV “Guide” button on the mobile app remote

There’s no exact word on when to expect the Roku OS 11.5 update on your device, other than “in the coming months.”

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Phil Nickinson
Section Editor, Audio/Video
Phil spent the 2000s making newspapers with the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, the 2010s with Android Central and then the…
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