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Roku Plans Major Operating System Updates

Roku 11.5
(Image credit: Roku)

SAN JOSE, Calif.—Roku has announced it plans a significant update to its operating system with the upcoming rollout of OS 11.5 that is designed to improve the user experience for discovering, accessing, and streaming entertainment. 

 Additionally, Roku announced two new products: an all-new Roku Wireless Bass and the 2022 Roku Express.

The new version of the Roku Express now has dual-band Wi-Fi and increased storage, making it more powerful than previous iterations, the company said.  

The newly designed Roku Wireless Bass provides high-powered sound for a theater-like experience. The subwoofer adds deep bass to a Roku Streambar, Roku Wireless Speakers, or Roku TV Wireless Soundbar and is available standalone, or bundled with the Roku Streambar, the company said. 

In terms of the operating system, Roku said it will introduce an all-new content discovery experience, 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.

The updates will be made in the coming months, the company said.  

Roku is also making updates to Roku Voice, expanding Bluetooth Private Listening, easing navigation within the Live TV Channel Guide with the addition of categories, and offering more content discovery tools, among many other features.

“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,” said Preston Smalley, vice president of consumer product at Roku. “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.”

New features coming to Roku devices in the following months include:

  • The Buzz: The newest addition to the Roku Home Screen Menu, The Buzz brings a new discovery experience to the biggest screen in the house. Users can quickly browse a frequently updated collection of posts featuring entertainment-centric, short-form content from popular streaming services and entertainment brands, such as AMC+, Apple TV+, BET+, Crackle, Hallmark Movies Now, IGN, Plex, Popcornflix, SHOWTIME®, Starz, The CW, Tubi, Vevo, and Wondrium, with more to come. Posts within The Buzz may include video clips, images, trailers, interviews, and other content to help users discover movies and shows that match their interests. Users can engage with content featured in The Buzz by liking posts, saving content to watch later, following profiles to view future posts, or immediately streaming the movie or show featured in the post, Roku said. 
  • Continue Watching: Designed to make streaming on Roku even more convenient, Continue Watching makes it easier than ever for users to resume watching TV shows and movies they were previously streaming. Located within What to Watch on the Roku Home Screen Menu, Continue Watching gives users a single location to jump back into the content they are watching, from a selection of streaming channels including HBO Max, Netflix, Paramount+, and The Roku Channel, with more channels to come.
  • Save List: Users can now easily save movies and shows from across the Roku platform to create a Save List of content they want to stream later. Located within What to Watch on their Home Screen Menu, as well as the Roku Mobile App, the new Save List provides a single destination for users to quickly access and stream content they’ve previously saved. Users will see a “Save” option on movie and TV show details pages, allowing them to save that title to their list with a press of a button. Today's update is an expansion of the previously launched Save List within The Roku Channel and the Roku Mobile App.
  • Roku Store: Our newest addition to the Roku Home Screen Menu, Roku Store will be a more visual, immersive destination for users to browse, search, and add free and paid channels to their devices. Within the Roku Store, users will also be able to navigate through different categories to easily find and shop for new streaming content. 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 is expanding Bluetooth Private Listening to be compatible with our newest Roku Ultra, Roku Streambar, and Roku Streambar Pro. 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 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.
  • Categories in Roku's Live TV Channel Guide: Categories within the Live TV Channel Guide will enable customers to discover and jump into their favorite Live TV content with new, easy-to-navigate content categories. 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.
  • Live TV Channel “Guide” button: Roku is 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. With our new “Guide” button, customers can instantly launch the Live TV Channel Guide, where they can find Live TV channels, browse for content to watch, and search our new Categories. The Guide button within the Roku Mobile app will only be available when connected to a Roku TV with OS 11.5 in supported regions, the company explained. 

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.