We've been following the leaks about Roku's smart TV upgrades for some months, but now it's official: Roku's rolling out a free upgrade to compatible devices like the Roku Streaming Stick 4K that introduces some useful new features to deliver better sports streaming, make it easier to find great shows and movies, and to enjoy music too. The upgrade is rolling out "in the coming months" to US users.
The features include a new favoriting feature that makes it easier to track live events by sports teams: simply add the team to your My Favorites row in the Sports section and you'll be able to tune in instantly when it's game time. Sports also gets new Highlights showing clips from recent events, and the available sporting content will be expanded to include motorsports from 2024. It's also getting a selection of new sports content from Max in the coming weeks.
The upgrades aren't just for sports fans, as fun as those new features sound. There's plenty for TV and movie buffs and music fans too.
Key new features in the Roku TV upgrade
As we've written before, Roku has so many free live TV channels – 400-plus and counting – that it can be hard to find what you want. Ruko is improving its Live TV channel guide to simplify browsing and personalize the channel lineup display. It's also removing channel numbers.
The new Music Playlists bring music videos from the likes of Vevo, Stingray and Warner Music Group in over 250 playlists ranging from iconic music videos to smooth jazz and pop bands. And the new What To Watch update will improve the category selection "in the coming weeks" to make it easier to find what you want. That's being introduced alongside new, curated "experiences" on topics such as food or homes, and there's a new visual search coming to the mobile app.
There are some other useful improvements too. Roku Photo Streams will now support Google Photos, and if you have Roku smart home kit you'll be able to use Event History and Notifications to check your video doorbell events and get notifications when packages are delivered.
Last but not least, Expert Picture Setting is coming to 4K devices to deliver more customization. The OS update, Roku OS 12.5, is rolling out to compatible models, including TVs like the Roku Plus Series, in the next few weeks.
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Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.