While names like Netflix, HBO Max, and Disney+ often dominate the streaming conversation, Roku is somewhat quietly becoming one of the dominant forces in the industry, and on Monday, the company announced a slew of updates, both to its operating system and product line.
Roku’s new OS 11.5 is designed to give users a more convenient and efficient experience for discovering, accessing, and streaming content. In the coming months, the company will introduce an all-new content discovery experience, known as The Buzz, to the Roku Home Screen menu as well as two significant updates to its What to Watch feature — Continue Watching and an expanded platform-wide Save List.
There are also updates coming to Roku Voice which will expand Bluetooth private listening, ease navigation within the Live TV channel guide, and offering more content discovery tools, and more.
“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,” Roku’s VP of consumer products Preston Smalley said. “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.”
In addition to the new features added to the platform, Roku is introducing new categories within the Live TV Channel Guide that allow viewers to discover and jump into their favorite live content. For a more personalized experience, customers can browse through three new Categories: Recents, Favorites, and Subscribed, where they can save their favorite channels, circle back to their recently watched content, or quickly get to their Premium stations from The Roku Channel.
Customers can also browse through a selection of live TV genres including News, Sports, Movies, Entertainment, Kids, Crime, Music, and En Espanol, all of which will be automatically populated based on the Live TV content in The Roku Channel available in those categories.
Roku is also introducing a dedicated Live TV Channel “Guide” button on the mobile app remote so that customers can see what is playing live on their TV with a tap of a button. The button allows customers to instantly launch the Live TV Channel Guide, where they can browse live content and search the newly introduced categories.
New features coming to Roku devices in the following months include:
Roku Home Screen Menu
The Buzz: The newest addition to the Roku Home Screen Menu, The Buzz brings a new discovery experience allowing users to quickly browse a frequently updated collection of short-form content from popular streaming services and entertainment brands, including AMC+, Apple TV+, BET+, Crackle, Hallmark Movies Now, IGN, Plex, Popcornflix, SHOWTIME, Starz, The CW, Tubi, Vevo, and Wondrium, with more services being promised for the future.
Content in The Buzz can include video clips, images, trailers, interviews, and anything else that helps users find the perfect movies and TV shows.
Continue Watching: Designed to make streaming on Roku even more convenient, Continue Watching allows users to resume watching TV shows and movies on select streaming platforms after turning off the TV. Located within What to Watch on the home screen menu, Continue Watching gives users a single location to jump back into the content they are watching on HBO Max, Netflix, Paramount+, and [The Roku Channel], with more channels to be added in the future.
Save List: This updated feature allows Roku users to save movies and shows across different devices in order to stream them at a later date. Located within What to Watch on the home screen — as well as in the Roku mobile app — Save List keeps a running list of everything that a user has marked so that they can stream it on whatever device they choose. Users will see a “Save” option on movie and TV show details pages, allowing them to save the title to their list.
Roku Store: The newest addition to the Roku home screen menu, is an updated, more user0friendly location to browse, search, and add free and paid channels to the service. In order to help facilitate discovery, users will be able to navigate through different categories to find the streaming content that they are looking for.
The Roku Store will appear on devices in the coming months and will be expanded over time to offer users a more streamlined and integrated shopping experience on the Roku platform.
Bluetooth Private Listening: Roku also announced on Monday that it is expanding its Bluetooth Private Listening to be compatible with the newest Roku Ultras, Roku Streambars, and Roku Streambar Pros. Users can simply pair their headphones from the Sound Setting menu and start listening to content privately.
This is an update to Roku’s Private Listening feature, which currently allows users to listen to their TV through headphones connected to Roku’s premium remotes or paired through the Mobile App.
Roku Voice: Roku is adding new visual tools onscreen to help customers get to their desired channel destination while using Roku Voice. When using this feature, users will now see a display on their screen showing channel options relevant to their voice search. From there, customers can simply say or select the option they want and start streaming.