Good news, everyone – or at least, everyone with a Roku streaming stick. Roku’s range of HD and 4K streamers are finally getting support for voice commands via the Alexa and Google Assistant voice assistants in the UK – with a nifty new voice feature coming worldwide too.
While some streaming sticks already feature built-in voice capability – like Alexa on the Amazon Fire TV Stick – this is the first time Roku streaming devices in the UK have been compatible with the voice assistants.
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The voice support is coming via the Roku OS 9.3 firmware update, which is rolling out to Roku devices worldwide over April, enabling you to alter playback, turn your TV on and off, and switch HDMI inputs without so much as the push of a button. The update adds a new layout and navigation bar to the Roku mobile app, too.
But the most interesting part is Roku’s fun voice search feature – which lets you quote your favorite films and watch the Roku OS find the relevant title for you across its many supported apps and services.
We couldn’t ascertain exactly how extensive the quote function is: we’re told by Roku that this feature uses a database of movie dialogue linked to specific (and likely well-known) titles, rather than scanning the screenplay or subtitles for every film and TV show across the platform (which would be a much larger task). So try not to be disappointed if Alexa can’t find every obscure indie movie you can quote from start to finish.
Keep in mind that these streamers only support ‘Works with Alexa’ and ‘Works with Google Assistant’ – so you’ll be able to control the Roku OS with a proper Alexa or Google Assistant smart speaker, like the Amazon Echo or Google Home, but Roku remotes won’t start shipping with built-in microphones just yet.
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