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TV Tech
TV Tech
George Winslow

Roku Upgrades Viewing Experience with New Features


SAN JOSE, Calif.—Roku has announced a number of improvements to its streaming platform that will provide new ways to personalize and elevate the viewing experience. 

The improvements, which will roll out over the next few months, include the introduction of Backdrops, Roku Smart Picture, and updates to the browse, discovery, and the mobile app features on all U.S. devices. 

“We want our platform to be relevant to how you watch TV, whether you purchased a device today or years ago,” said Preston Smalley, vice president of viewer product at Roku. “With personalized Backdrops to suit your mood, Smart Picture for crystal-clear visuals, and better ways to help decide what to watch, we’re setting a new standard for streaming excellence. This is the future of TV, tailored just for you by Roku.”

Citing research showing that 86% of TV buyers want a TV that fits in seamlessly with their decor, Roku has launched a new feature called Backdrops instantly transforms your TV into a work of art and makes it the centerpiece of the house. Users can change the screen by simply browsing through a wide catalog of free delightful artwork, including famous classics, museum collections, abstract designs, and more, and choose the art to match their tastes and decor. Users can also select their favorite artwork or easily upload digital art or family photos to curate their very own collection to display.

As part of an effort to provide the best picture quality, Roku is also rolling out Roku Smart Picture. 

A Harris Poll survey commissioned by Roku** shows that about 91% of smart TV viewers don’t adjust picture settings often as they watch different types of content, such as sports or movies. Yet 70% of smart TV buyers say picture quality is a key feature when purchasing a TV. 

Roku Smart Picture is designed to make it much easier to get the best picture quality for a Roku TV device without having to change the settings. As apps stream, Roku Smart Picture adjusts the backlighting, uniformity, and colors based on the type of TV. Additionally, Roku Smart Picture automatically optimizes the brightness and colors and selects the best picture mode—i.e., sports, movies, vivid, and standard—for the content you’re watching, offering a better TV viewing experience.

Roku is also making improvements to its Roku City digital downtown screen by adding TV and movie cars to the streets of Roku City. 

The streaming platform also announced improvements to the browse and discovery features that include: 

  • IMDb ratings: In the coming weeks, you can expect to see IMDb ratings across entertainment details pages, keeping you in the know on what peers have rated TV shows and movies before you dive in. Plus, we’re also populating a new row within What to Watch that will feature highly rated IMDb titles, so users can tune in with ease.
  • Trailers: With trailers coming to entertainment details pages across the platform, you can seamlessly preview TV shows or movies, allowing you to feel confident in your selection.
  • Save List Updates: We’ve made your Save List even smarter. Now, when a TV show or movie on your Save List drops in price or when new seasons or episodes are available, we'll let you know with badge updates right on the entertainment tile, bringing titles that may have been at the end of your list right to the front.

Improvements to the Roku Mobile App include: 

  • New navigation bar: Users will now be able to browse between five universal tabs: Home, Search, Remote, Devices, and Account.
  • Top Searched TV and Movies: With the all-new “Top Searched TV and Movies” row, you can scroll through what’s popular with other streamers and tune in. The row will be populated with daily searched TV shows and movies from across the platform.
  • Search updates: With a full keyboard, searching has never been easier, and now the results will be more visually immersive while you search or browse through new categories, actors, and other topics.

All software updates will be available to Roku users in the coming months. Roku Smart Picture is coming to all Roku TV models. Any Roku-branded TV purchased in the spring of 2024 and onward will come with Roku Smart Picture as the default, and those purchased before that date will need to enable it (in picture settings).

In addition, OS 13 will roll out to all supported devices in the U.S. in the coming months, Roku said. 

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