Roku joins voice assistant race to rival Alexa and Google Assistant

Roku is no stranger to voice control, having included voice search in its streaming boxes for some time now, but this functionality is set to take a big step forward with the launch of a fully-fledged voice assistant. 

However, while other voice assistant manufacturers such as Amazon and Google produce their own speaker hardware to house this software, Roku's plan is to rely solely on third-party manufacturers.

Unlike its competitors, the Roku voice assistant's functionality will be purely limited to entertainment. We know that the smart speakers produced will be able to control Roku TV devices (much in the same way that Alexa can control the Amazon Fire TV), but it won't be able to handle the wider voice assistant functionality of its competitors which involve giving information about the news, weather and controlling the smart home. 

Lots of voices in the room

In addition to third-party speakers and soundbars, Roku is also expecting to update its existing lineup of streaming boxes with the voice assistant in the second half of 2018. 

TCL is expected to be the first brand to license the Roku assistant (it was the first to use the OS for its smart TV), but the company is hoping that more manufacturers will follow suit. 

At our count that now means that by the end of 2018 there will be six voice assistants out in the world – which makes it feel slightly crowded. Hopefully Roku's entertainment focus will allow it to stand out from the crowd, but if it's a choice between buying a speaker with Alexa or Roku built in, we know which one we'd rather make room for. 

Jon Porter

Jon Porter is the ex-Home Technology Writer for TechRadar. He has also previously written for Practical Photoshop, Trusted Reviews, Inside Higher Ed, Al Bawaba, Gizmodo UK, Genetic Literacy Project, Via Satellite, Real Homes and Plant Services Magazine, and you can now find him writing for The Verge.