Hot on the heels of its Streaming Stick 4K unveiling, Roku is taking the wraps off OS 10.5, a streaming player update that—among other new and updated features—makes it easier for users to browse Roku’s growing selection of live TV channels.
Rolling out now to Roku’s existing lineup of streaming players as well as Roku devices and TVs sold within the past five years, OS 10.5 adds a series of enhancements not only to Roku’s streaming devices but also for the Roku mobile app.
First and foremost, the latest version of the Roku OS will highlight Roku’s live TV programming guide, which is stuffed with more than 200 live streaming TV channels. With Roku OS 10.5, users will be able to pin the Live TV channel guide directly to their home screens, allowing for one-click access to live and local streaming channels.
Also coming to Roku OS 10.5 is voice-enabled “direct to playback” support for both Netflix and Spotify, which allows users to jump to videos or music on a specific streaming service using voice commands (such as, “play Bohemian Rhapsody on Netflix,” or “play Taylor Swift on Spotify”). Disney+, Hulu, and Pandora already support direct-to-playback voice functionality.
Roku OS 10.5 will also begin integrating music and podcast search results along with video search results, meaning (for example) a voice search on “Dark Side of the Moon” will display results for Pink Floyd’s album as well as any related videos.
Another voice enhancement coming to OS 10.5 will be support for dictating passwords when logging into apps that have enabled the feature. Previously, Roku users were able to dictate their email addresses when logging into apps and channels, but not their passwords.
For owners of Roku’s Streambar and Streambar Pro, OS 10.5 will add the ability to use those soundbars in 3.1- and 5.1-channel configurations when used in conjunction with Roku’s other wireless speakers.
While you can already pair, for example, the 2.0-channel Streambar with a Roku Wireless Subwoofer (for a 2.1-channel setup), or two Roku Wireless Speakers and the sub (for a 4.1-channel configuration), OS 10.5 will turn the Streambar (or the Streambar Pro) into a dedicated center channel, meaning you could add two Roku satellite speakers plus a subwoofer for a 3.1 configuration (left, center, right, and low-frequency effects), or four speakers and a sub for a full-on 5.1 setup (left, center, right, left surround, right surround, and low-frequency effects).
Speaking of sound, Roku OS 10.5 will add the ability to tinker with the audio settings of your Roku devices directly from the Roku mobile app.
For example, you’ll be able to change sound modes, enable late-night, dialogue enhancing, and volume-leveling listening modes; boost the audio soundstage; and more, all via the Roku app for iOS and Android—and without disrupting your videos with on-screen menus.
Another nifty audio perk coming to the Roku mobile app is an automatic A/V sync feature, which will help to fix any lip-sync issues when you’re listening via the app using Bluetooth headphones. With help from your phone’s camera, the new A/V sync feature will scan the screen to make sure that the audio is properly synced up with the video.
Finally, the Roku mobile app will be getting a new Save List, which will let you bookmark shows and movies you’d like to watch later, while a new Home tab will let you browse “zones” of categorized videos across various genres and trending topics.
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Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices. You can follow Ben on Twitter.