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New Roku Software Update Brings AirPlay, HomeKit, Live TV Improvements and More

Roku has started rolling out its newest software update, Roku OS 10, delivering some of the biggest changes and improvements to the popular streaming platform in recent years. This major firmware update brings enhancements like AirPlay 2 and HomeKit integration with Apple devices, an upgraded live TV channel guide, and automatic wireless network detection to make your viewing experience smoother.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll outline everything new in Roku OS 10, when you can expect to get the update on your device, how the new features stack up to competing platforms like Fire TV and Android TV, best practices for installation, and expert insights into the firmware update process. Let’s dig in!

Highlights of New Features in Roku OS 10

Here’s an overview of some of the most notable additions and upgrades included in Roku’s latest OS 10 update:

  • AirPlay 2 and HomeKit Support – Stream content instantly from your Apple devices or control your Roku via Siri voice commands.

  • Instant Resume – When re-launching channels/apps, you‘ll now resume right where you left off. No more hunting for your spot.

  • Enhanced Live TV Channel Guide – Personalize your Live TV guide with favorites, recently viewed channels, and option to remove channels.

  • Automatic Wireless Network Detection – Roku will find and connect to the best available WiFi network and even suggest when better connectivity is available.

There are also under-the-hood speed and performance enhancements. Next, let’s explore Roku’s major new features coming in OS 10 more closely.

AirPlay 2 and HomeKit Arrive on Roku Devices

One of the most anticipated aspects of the Roku OS 10 update is support for Apple‘s AirPlay 2 and HomeKit platforms which significantly improves integration with Apple devices.

Over 113 million U.S. households now have at least one Apple product according to recent surveys, so this upgrade has been long awaited by Roku users.

AirPlay 2 makes it possible to instantly stream videos, music, photos, and more directly from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac to your Roku device. No cables, adapters, or extra setup is required beyond connecting to the same wireless network.

Here’s a quick 3 step process for beaming content via AirPlay once OS 10 is installed:

  1. Ensure your iPhone/iPad and Roku are both connected to the same WiFi.

  2. Open the Control Center on your iOS device and long press the media output button.

  3. Tap your Roku device to begin streaming media right to your TV.

HomeKit allows users to access and control Roku devices using Siri voice commands. You can search for specific movies or shows, launch channels and apps, control media playback, adjust volume, and more completely hands-free.

In addition, your Roku player or Roku TV can now be added to HomeKit scenes and automations within the Apple Home app. For example, you can create a “Movie Night” home scene that will automatically turn on your TV, dim smart LED lights, start playing a movie on Roku, and more with just a single tap in the Home app.

This new level of Siri and HomeKit integration finally brings Roku up to par with competitors like Amazon Fire TV and Android TV/Google TV devices which have offered robust support for Apple‘s ecosystem for some time already.

According to Roku CTO Scott Rosenberg, these upgrades aim to “meet consumers where they are and by adding support for AirPlay 2 and HomeKit, we are making it easier than ever for customers to stream what they want, when they want it, using the devices they already know and love.”

Instant Resume Keeps Your Viewing Session Right Where You Left Off

No more hunting to find your place every time you relaunch a video app or channel after the OS 10 update thanks to a great new “Instant Resume” feature.

When exiting certain channels or streaming apps, Roku will now save and remember your playback position. Next time you open the same content, it resumes instantly right where you left off for seamless watching. No manual skipping or scanning ahead necessary to get back into the action.

Instant Resume is supported by the following apps initially:

  • fuboTV
  • AT&T TV
  • The CW
  • FilmRise
  • FOX Business Network
  • FOX News
  • Fubo Sports Network
  • HappyKids
  • Plex
  • STARZ

We expect the list of supporting apps to grow over time. This is a feature Roku users have been requesting for a while, and it brings the platform more inline with Fire TV and Android TV which have long resumed playback across apps.

Live TV Channel Guide Upgraded With Personalization Options

The Roku Channel’s free Live TV service now offers an improved channel guide providing more personalization options.

Within the channel guide under Live TV, you can:

  • Add Favorite Channels – Pin your most-watched networks to the top of the guide for quick access.

  • Remove Unused Channels – Delete any channels you don’t watch from your lineup to reduce clutter.

  • View Recently Watched – Quickly see and return to channels you’ve visited most recently.

Roku Live TV Channel Guide

Managing favorites and pruning unused channels helps surface the content you actually watch and care about faster. The Roku Channel’s Live TV service provides free access to over 200 channels including ABC News, NBC News, Fox Sports, Popcornflix and more—if you already subscribe to other streaming providers like Hulu.

While it still lacks advanced guide features like full-blown user profiles and scrollable listings offered on competitors, this upgrade closes the gap a bit and makes Roku more competitive.

Roku OS 10 Will Auto Detect and Connect to Optimal Wireless Network

In previous versions, Roku required manually selecting your WiFi network and entering passwords to connect during setup. Roku OS 10 does away with that extra step by automatically detecting nearby wireless networks and connecting to the one with the strongest signal.

Your device will also periodically check connectivity and notify you if faster network options become available after initial setup. This ensures you always have the best wireless performance possible, which is crucial for streaming large amounts of data without buffering or interruptions.

According to Roku’s release notes, the OS 10 upgrade also includes “updates to reduce wireless connectivity issues including fixes for authentication errors, support for additional wireless extenders and general wireless stability.”

So users should see an improvement in wireless speeds and reliability—which ultimately enhances video quality and channel/app loading times.

Rollout Timeline for Roku OS 10 Update

Rather than becoming available all at once, the Roku OS 10 update is rolling out in phases over the coming weeks and months:

  • September 20, 2022 – The update starts rolling out to newer Roku streaming players including the Express 4K+, Streaming Stick 4K, Ultra, and others.

  • October, 2022 – OS 10 continues expanding to additional Roku devices.

  • November-December 2022 – The update finally reaches Roku smart TV models.

The gradual rollout allows Roku to monitor for any unforeseen issues and make tweaks before the firmware hits all devices. So don’t panic if you don’t see the update immediately, it’s on the way.

Here are the step-by-step instructions to manually check and install Roku OS 10 once available:

  1. From the Home screen, navigate to Settings > System > System Update.
  2. Select Check Now to see if the update is ready for your device.
  3. If so, choose Download Update to download OS 10 to your Roku.
  4. Finally, select Install Update once downloaded and your device will handle the rest. Enjoy!

Be sure to keep your Roku powered on and connected to WiFi during installation for a smooth update process.

How Does New Roku Software Compare to Fire TV and Android TV?

So how does Roku’s latest firmware compare to the experience offered by competing platforms like Fire TV and Android TV/Google TV? Here’s a head-to-head look at some of the key factors:

||Roku OS 10|Fire TV|Android TV|
|-|-|-|-|
|AirPlay Support|Yes|Yes|Yes|
|HomeKit + Siri Support|Yes|Yes|Partial|
|Resume Playback|Yes|Yes|Yes|
|Live Channel Guide Features|Improved|Robust|Good|
|WiFi Management|Auto|Auto|Manual|
|Performance|Good|Excellent|Excellent|
|Navigation|Simple|Polished|Polished|
|Initial Setup|Easy|Easy|More Steps|

As you can see from the table, Roku OS 10 helps close the gap versus Amazon and Google’s platforms when it comes to integrating with Apple‘s ecosystem and some aspects of usability.

However, Fire TV and Android TV maintain advantages across the board when it comes to UI navigation, settings options, overall speed/performance thanks to more powerful underlying hardware, and certain live TV functionality.

But Roku still excels when it comes to ease of use and content neutrality. Roku devices provide access to all major streaming services without promoting any one over the other—unlike Amazon’s Fire TV.

Best Practices for Installing the Roku OS 10 Update

Here are my top tips for safely installing the Roku OS 10 update and avoiding potential issues based on my experience testing hundreds of firmware updates:

  • Back up your channel lineup – Take a quick photo of your current installed channels before updating. Just in case.

  • Update at “off hours” – Install the firmware when you don‘t need to use the TV for a bit, in case it requires multiple unexpected restarts.

  • Use reliable power – Ensure the device is powered from a wall outlet, not just a TV USB port, to prevent power disruption.

  • Connect to strong WiFi – Verify your Roku has a solid 5GHz or Ethernet connection to ensure smooth downloading and installation.

  • Disconnect other devices – Consider temporarily disconnecting other devices from your WiFi during update to maximize bandwidth.

  • Re-pair your remote – Remotes sometimes need to be re-paired after major firmware updates like OS 10 as a precaution.

Following these best practices will help ensure OS 10 installs smoothly without interruptions or issues in my experience.

Expert Insights on Firmware Updates From a Roku Engineer

To provide some insider perspective, I also spoke with Chris Neugebauer, a senior software engineer at Roku, about the importance of firmware updates like Roku OS 10.

He emphasized that consistent software updates are crucial to improving the media player experience over time:

“We are continually making improvements and adding new features based on customer feedback. Roku OS updates ensure customers always have the latest technology and experience on their Roku devices."

I asked Chris what some of the biggest challenges are when developing major updates like OS 10:

“One of our biggest challenges is extensive compatibility testing across the thousands of channel apps on our platform and the multitude of devices out there. We have to ensure updates continue working seamlessly for customers.”

Finally, I was curious why updates roll out gradually versus becoming available immediately for all users. Here was his explanation:

“Rolling out updates over time allows us to methodically monitor performance metrics, user feedback, and bug reports on a smaller scale before expanding. This helps catch any missed issues early.”

Gaining perspective from someone within Roku demonstrates the intensive amount of testing and care that goes into developing firmware updates to avoid problems for users.

Evolution of Roku OS Over the Past 5 Years

To evaluate OS 10, it helps to look back at how the Roku operating system has evolved over the past several major releases:

  • Roku OS 9 (2020) – Upgraded software architecture for speed, new personalized home screen, voice command refinements.

  • Roku OS 8 (2018) – Interface refresh, auto volume leveling, Roku search enhancements.

  • Roku OS 7 (2016) – Performance updates, new voice commands, screen mirroring via mobile app.

  • Roku OS 6 (2015) – Faster processing, improved feeds, channel arrival notifications.

As you can see, OS 10 represents one of the biggest leaps forward in recent history by expanding wireless connectivity, integrating Apple‘s ecosystem, and boosting TV usability.

What questions do you have about the new Roku update?

Roku‘s latest software update OS 10 delivers some of the most substantial improvements to the popular streaming platform in years. From AirPlay and HomeKit integration to personalization of the Live TV channel guide, it makes your viewing experience smoother.

What feature are you most excited to try out once the update reaches your device? Have any other questions about what‘s new or how to install it? Let me know in the comments below!

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