Roku’s latest software update brings local news, more live sports and a new mobile app
Roku devices are getting an upgrade. The company today announced a series of updates coming to its media streamers and TVs with a new version of its software, Roku OS 12.
The updates, which will focus on areas such as live TV and sports, among others, will also be accompanied by an overhaul of the Roku mobile app.
The company says it will include a new home screen and other layout changes, in addition to improved tools in areas like account management and photos.
The company also announced that its new Roku-branded TVs are now available exclusively with Best Buy.
The software updates are aimed at helping Roku better compete with rivals especially in live TV.
Is becoming a key selling point for customers overwhelmed by paid streaming subscriptions and looking for alternatives.
FAST channels (ad-free advertising supported TV streaming) and services that provide access to free content are becoming increasingly popular.
Roku currently includes a selection of more than 350 of these types of live channels with its software, which it will now enhance by adding local news.
Users across the US will be able to customize their live TV by choosing channels from major cities across the country.
In addition, the company says its news recommendations will be powered by AI, the technology Roku uses to tailor the experience to end users to show them the news they’d like to see.
The company tells TechCrunch it will put AI to work. customize your suggestions based on things like customers’ streaming habits, location, save lists and more, and these recommendations will improve over time as more users stream.
Customers will notice recommendations based on services they already subscribe to, including premium subscriptions that are now integrated into live TV.
However, in the coming months, customers may start to notice other customized suggestions as well – such as how the games they’re more likely to be interested in float to the top of the row when browsing Roku’s new sports environment.
Home screen menu items like Featured Free, What to Watch, and Live TV will also be positioned based on how the customer uses those features for more convenient access and fewer clicks, Roku says.
Another change to the live sports experience that was first announced in November will be the addition of a new golf zone that will feature upcoming live tournaments.
The Sports Zone will also increase the scope of its Spanish-language coverage and expand its set of providers with CBS Sports, MLB TV, NBA App and others joining its roster.
Elsewhere in the user interface, Roku is updating the “Continue Watching” feature, which allows users to return to content they were previously viewing.
Thanks to the update, this feature picks up where you left off almost immediately — once you click outside of the content and exit the app.
New partners — including Amazon Prime Video, Discovery+, and Vix Plus — are now supported in the feature, along with debut partners Netflix, Paramount+, HBO Max, and, of course.
The Roku Channel — Roku’s own free streaming hub.
More channels will soon add support, including BET+, Frndly TV, Freevee and STARZ.
Another major change that comes alongside the OS update is the updated Roku mobile app.
The company says the new design intends to make the app “visually immersive” and more personalized. The update will roll out to users in the US.
However, Roku international customers can view [What to Watch], [Continue Watching], [Save List] ,[Live TV]Get updates soon, including the launch of zones and category offers.
The software update was announced with the first news about the feature and its launch date. the recently announced Roku Select and Plus Series TVs will be available in 11 models ranging from 24 inches to 75 inches.
Also exclusive to Best Buy, the Plus Series features QLED technology, 4K Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos.
Auto Brightness, Local Dimming, Roku Voice Remote Pro, Bluetooth Private Listening (no app required) and more.
It also supports wireless surround sound scalability with the new Roku Wireless Soundbar (also a Best Buy exclusive), Roku Wireless Speaks and Wireless base.
Prices for them will start at $500 later this year, according to the company.
Roku Select TVs (over $150) and Plus TVs are available starting today in Best Buy stores and online at BestBuy.com. A new wireless soundbar is coming later this month.