Roku OS 11 takes inspiration from Fire TV and Google TV
Like most of us, Roku had a stressful 2021 and is hoping 2022 might end up better. The company’s first major announcement for this year isn’t a possible new contender for the best media streaming devices, or the rumored Roku-branded smart TVs — it’s a new software update for all its existing products. Roku OS 11 is now rolling out, and it’s clearly taking inspiration from Amazon and Google’s TV platforms.
Roku OS 11 introduces two new tabs on the home screen: What to Watch and Live TV. The new What to Watch page (pictured above) displays content recommendations from supported free services and subscriptions connected to your Roku account, just like the home pages on Amazon Fire TV or Google TV. Not everyone is a fan of this concept, which is why there’s a renewed interest for third-party launchers on Google TV/Android TV, but the old channels layout is still accessible on the side panel. Meanwhile, the Live TV tab shows all your available live channels from Hulu, fuboTV, Philo, Sling, YouTube TV, and other supported services in one place.
The other major design change is a new ‘Roku Photo Streams’ feature, which allows you to select images on your phone, tablet, or computer and send them to a Roku device. The photos can then be used for a screensaver, just like the Ambient Mode on most Android TV and Chromecast devices.
There are a few other helpful new features, like an A/V sync calibration tool in the Roku mobile app, new sound modes for Roku Streambars and speakers, an “automatic speech clarity” setting when watching movies and TV, expanded language support for the voice keyboard, and improved search on mobile. Roku says the update will roll out to “supported Roku streaming players, Roku TV models, and peripherals over the coming weeks.”