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Everything Roku Announced: New Roku Ultra, Roku Streambar, Roku Channel App, AirPlay & Home Kit, Roku OS 9.4

Jason Gurwin

Roku dropped five major announcements this morning from a new top-of-the-line streaming player, a new smart soundbar, a free app for non-Roku users, AirPlay & HomeKit support, and an OS update that should level up your performance.

This is everything Roku announced:

1. All-New 2020 Roku Ultra

Roku says it’s their most powerful and fastest streaming player they’ve ever made. They’ve told us that users can expect a 30% increase in channel launch and video start times.

The device has a slightly new look and has bluetooth support for the first time, as well as 50% improved wireless range. Don’t worry though, if you want to continue to use a hard-wired connection, the device still has Ethernet built-in. The new Roku Ultra has replaced the microSD slot, with a USB 3 port to bring your media library to the device.

With the new power under-the-hood, the Roku Ultra is now the first Roku streaming player to support Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.

The all-new Roku Ultra stays at $99.99 and ships in mid-October.

2. Roku Streambar

Last year, Roku launched their first Smart Soundbar which combines a soundbar with a 4K Roku streaming player. With the success of the audio-lineup, which includes wireless speakers and a wireless subwoofer, the company announced new smaller Smart Soundbar called the Roku Streambar.

Unlike it’s bigger sibling, the Roku Streambar is just the size of an egg carton at 2” tall and 14” wide. This means that it’s not only an option for the living room, but could be put in a bedroom or a kitchen — improving your audio, while giving you a 4K streaming player.

On the streaming side, the built-in 4K streaming player should see near identical performance to that in the Smart Soundbar, so you won’t sacrifice streaming performance.

With the smaller size, also comes a lower price at just $129.99 ($50 less than Smart Soundbar) when it begins shipping in mid-October. When you think of it, at just $70 more than the Roku Streaming Stick+, it’s almost a no brainer to add better audio to your streaming experience.

3. Roku Adds AirPlay and HomeKit Support to 4K Streaming Devices

Coming later this year, Roku customers will enjoy Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit capabilities on select 4K Roku devices.

With AirPlay 2, Roku customers can stream, control, and share their favorite content directly from their iPhone, iPad, or Mac to their supported Roku device and bring the experience to the big screen. HomeKit allows customers to easily and securely control their Roku device using the Home app and Siri on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, or HomePod.

4. Roku Adds Faster Performance, Updated Themes in Roku OS 9.4

Roku OS 9.4 with faster initial setups so users don’t have to wait too long for their favorite channels to load; as well as updated theme packs so users now have more themes to choose. Within themes, there will now be corresponding audio tones that match the rest of the theme.

Roku OS 9.4 also comes with surround level control for multi-channel audio, so that users of Roku audio products, who have a multi-channel speaker configuration can adjust the volume of their rear surround speakers relative to the volume of their soundbar to match their personal preference.

The new update also adds brings the Live TV Channel Guide on Roku TVs, meaning users are now able to access it directly from their home screen. Users can turn off streaming channels if they don’t want them included within the guide. This feature originally rolled out to select Roku devices in July.

Users will also now have helpful hints for Roku voice, which will appear on the screen and suggest some voice commands they can say to optimize their search process.

The update will be rolling out to all Roku devices over the next few weeks.

5. Roku Launches Free App For “The Roku Channel”

You no longer need to be a Roku user to watch free content on The Roku Channel.

Roku announced the launch of a new free mobile app that brings The Roku Channel to iOS and Android smartphones, even if you don’t have a Roku device. The new app gives users access to free on-demand entertainment as well as live TV and news.

The mobile app will be standalone. The company will keep a separate Roku App that can still be used as a remote control for your streaming player or Roku TV.

he new Roku Channel app allows users to sign-up and stream premium subscriptions such as HBO, Showtime, and Starz, within it, even if they don’t have a Roku device.

Roku also announced they are expanding their free live/linear channel lineup in the U.S. — surpassing 115 channels. The platform will now offer channels, such as Cinedigm’s Bloody Disgusting TV, The Craftistry from Studio71, Circle, HappyKids.tv, Hi-YAH! - The Martial Arts Channel, iFood.tv, The LEGO Channel, Maverick Black Cinema, Moviesphere Skills + Thrills, Venn and WeatherSpy.

Roku will also bring a variety of Spanish-language entertainment including Sony Canal Novelas, Sony Canal Comedias, and Sony Canal Compentencias from Sony Pictures Television and Tastemade en Español, starting September 29.

Recap of Roku Announcements