Continue Watching, Save List, and Bluetooth Private Listening are all new features on Roku
Roku users, prepare to discover some new features. According to Roku, the company’s latest free software update, version 11.5, will be available to Roku TVs and Roku streaming devices “in the coming months.” It adds a few new features while maintaining the company’s typical, app-based menus.
Continue Watching, which enables you to continue TV programs and movies where you left off in 11.5, might be the handiest feature. To begin, it supports HBO Max, Netflix, Paramount Plus, and The Roku Channel, with other streaming services to follow.
Most applications, including Netflix, HBO Max, and others, already provide comparable capability inside the apps, and Roku’s main rivals, Fire TV, Google TV, and Apple TV, all prominently display Continue Watching on their home pages. Roku’s version, on the other hand, is more difficult to spot since it’s hidden in the What to Watch area, one level down from Roku’s main home page.
Another new feature in the What to Watch area is a Save List, which allows you to save material for later viewing.
Roku is also introducing The Buzz to its home page menu, which seems to be a combination of social networking and entertainment. The streamer describes it as a “constantly updated collection of postings” with snippets, trailers, and interviews that viewers may “like,” save to watch later or begin streaming. AMC Plus, Apple TV Plus, Showtime, Starz, and others are among the launch partners.
The voice capability on Roku devices will also get a minor improvement. When more than one app qualifies for a voice search result, a popup comes displaying all of them, and you may choose “the second one,” for example, to open it. The Live channel directory is expanding to include categories such as Recents, Favorites, and Subscribed, as well as genres, however, it does not link with live TV streaming services such as Sling TV or YouTube TV.
Private listening, one of Roku’s most popular features, enables you to stream audio from your TV straight to the Roku app on your mobile phone, bypassing your TV’s speakers altogether. It also works with Roku remotes that enable you to attach wired headphones, such as the Voice Remote Pro.
The new software update allows you to connect your own Bluetooth devices, such as Bluetooth wireless headphones, to compatible Roku players. What’s the catch? It is only compatible with Roku Ultra and Roku soundbars, namely the Streambar and Streambar Pro. It is not compatible with other Roku devices, such as the less expensive Streaming Stick 4K, or with Roku TVs.
It’s worth mentioning that Roku’s rivals have had this capability for a long time. That covers most Fire TV devices, from the entry-level Fire TV Stick Lite on up, the Chromecast with Google TV, and a slew of smart TVs running those and other platforms (including Vizio, LG, and Samsung).
Roku also introduced two new hardware devices in addition to the software upgrade. There’s a (mildly) updated $30 Roku Express and a $130 Roku Wireless Bass subwoofer that works with the company’s soundbars and speakers.