Along with Monday’s announcements of new Roku Express and Roku Sound Bass products Monday, the smart TV platform resource revealed that a new Roku OS 11.5 firmware update will be coming to its supported devices in the coming months.

The update, which was announced through a blog on the Roku web site, will bring a number of features to the “What to Watch” content search section including the ability to resume playback from the point where a viewer left off viewing a particular movie and an expanded platform-wide Save List.

Roku said it also will be expanding the functionality of its Bluetooth “Private Listening” feature now work with any compatible Bluetooth headphones. It will also be making the Roku Voice command platform more powerful across apps.

One of the bigger additions the firmware update will bring is a new search tool called “The Buzz.” This will be added to the Roku home screen menu to help Roku users quickly browse through a collection of posts featuring trailers, interviews, and video clips from favorite streaming channels. Roku said the new tools “will help viewers engage with content by liking posts, following channels to stay up to date on the latest movies and shows, saving content to stream later, or immediately stream featured content.”

The new “Continue Watching” update will help viewers immediately resume streaming movies and shows from the point where they left off playing a stream earlier. The program will be located within “What to Watch” on the Roku home screen menu and viewers will able to get right back into the narrative of any program from a variety of popular streaming apps including: Netflix, HBO Max, Paramount+, and The Roku Channel.

The new Save List function will help viewers easily save movies and shows across channels on a Roku TV or Roku media player with a press of a button. Viewers will be able to create a collection of content to stream at a more convenient time, and will extend across apps platform wide. Save List will be located inside What to Watch on the Roku home screen menu as well as the Roku mobile app.

Roku is also including convenient access to “The Roku Store” on the Roku home screen menu, where viewers will be able to easily browse, search, and add free and paid channels to their Roku device.

New audio enhancements will include Bluetooth Private Listening allowing users to pair wireless headphones from the Sound Settings menu to listen to streaming content with Bluetooth Private Listening on compatible devices including the Roku Ultra (4800X, 4801X, 4802X), Roku Streambar (9102R), Roku Streambar Pro (9101R2), Roku Smart Soundbar (9101R), and onn. and Roku Smart Soundbar (9100X) devices.

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In addition, Roku TV owners who have connected audio devices (soundbars and AVRs) will now be able to improve audio/video (A/V) synchronization when required for seamless streaming via a new simple calibration tool in the Roku mobile app under the “Settings” menu when controlling a Roku TV.

At the same time the Roku Voice remote has been expanded to support more channels relevant to subject matter onscreen. From there, viewers will be able to simply say or select the suggested program to start streaming.

Content discovery will be further enhanced for Live TV categories, the company said. Roku users will get access to easy-to-navigate content categories within Roku’s Live TV Channel Guide. There they will be able to browse through categories to save favorite channels, resume recently watched content, or access Premium Subscriptions from The Roku Channel.

They will also be able to explore by genres including News, Sports, Movies, Kids, Entertainment, Crime and En Espanol to stream live TV through a Roku device.

The Roku mobile app will get a Live TV Channel Guide button to help users quickly see what’s available for streaming live. The dedicated Live TV Channel Guide button on the mobile app remote will take viewers instantly to live TV channels to browse programs and categories of relevant programming.

Automatic input naming will also be coming to Roku TVs to help owners quickly identify the devices plugged into the HDMI ports on the television. When a user connects a Blu-ray player, set-top box, or gaming console to their Roku TV, Roku will automatically identify the device and name the input tile according to the model. This will enable users to easily identify which input they would like to access. Roku TV owners can also assign names to Roku TV inputs for additional customization through the Settings menu.

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By Greg Tarr

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