Today, Roku outlined a slew of new software features that owners of its streaming devices (or Roku TVs) can expect over the coming weeks and months. The company has over 73 million active accounts globally, and as always, it’s trying to increase the amount of time each of those users spends on the platform. This time, it’s doing so with a wide range of features, with some targeted at sports fans and others at casual viewers who want yet more help finding something to watch.
Roku’s sports hub will soon let you “favorite” your chosen teams, which will make it easier to track when games are happening and faster to hop into the relevant streaming app and start watching. Highlights are also coming to the sports section, and Roku says “users will be able to watch clips from recent sporting events they may have missed or want to relive.” The company is expanding its foray into sports with the addition of motorsports in early 2024. But even before that, Roku says it will support Max’s upcoming sports content sometime in the next few weeks.
With the proliferation of FAST (free ad-supported streaming television) channels across Roku and many other entertainment platforms in recent months, users have asked for easier customization and browsing options, and Roku has some solutions. It already lets you hide channels you’re not interested in, and soon, you’ll be able to go a step further and personalize the order of channels in the guide.
To help customers avoid indecision over the night’s entertainment, Roku is also refining its “What to Watch” section with new categories that drill deeper into specific categories like TV shows, movies, new and popular, and free-to-watch content. “New experiences related to a specific genre or topic such as food or home will roll out across the platform in the coming months. Within these new experiences, users can browse through a curated selection of entertainment specific to each genre,” the company said.
If you’re someone who uses Roku’s Photo Streams feature, the biggest news of this entire update might be the addition of Google Photos support. Now, you can link an album and have it appear as your screensaver. For owners of Roku’s smart home cameras, the company is also adding more thorough event history and instant notifications for customers with a subscription.
This last new feature will be welcomed by picture quality nerds like myself: Roku is bringing its expert picture settings to all of its 4K-compatible devices. Previously available only via the company’s mobile app, now you’ll be able to adjust settings like color temperature, color space, gamma correction, and noise reduction right from the TV itself instead of reaching for your phone.
Rounding out the Roku OS 12.5 update is an “enhanced” music experience within The Roku Channel:
We’re enhancing the music experience in The Roku Channel to make it easier for customers to enjoy more than 250 video playlists from our partners, including Stingray, Vevo, and Warner Music Group. Whether they’re listening to “Relaxing Jazz,” watching “Iconic Music Videos,” or revisiting their favorite “Boy Bands,” users will enjoy a more immersive experience, with new controls to shuffle, skip ahead, add video playlists to their Save List for listening, receive recommendations for similar playlists, and more.
As for hardware, Roku is largely sticking with its existing product lineup this fall. The company recently announced an Amazon-exclusive bundle that pairs the Roku Express 4K with the Voice Remote Pro, but it looks like the streaming player portfolio is locked in for the remainder of the year.
Roku customers in the US can expect the 12.5 OS update to start popping up sometime over the next few weeks.