Roku OS 9.4 adds Themes with Sound, Beta Voice Search Support and More

Recently, we couldn’t pass up buying a 65″ Onn Roku-powered Smart TV from Walmart for $238 USD. Our family bought four of them at that price (one for each son + us). There are some crazy good deals going on for TVs, for those looking to upsize, replace or add to an additional room. We’re not active TV buyers, having last bought a TV almost 10 years ago (our last set was a good one, what can we say?). Our 3D TV is still doing well and we’ll use that in another room.

Anyway, Roku OS 9.4 has offered up some additional features, including themes with custom sounds and beta support for voice search — a feature we use frequently on Chromecast TV.

Roku OS 9.4 offers up some interesting new features, but some of those will depend on what kind of Roku device you’re using. Overall, Roku is promising improved performance across devices, including faster startup times, load times for top channels, and more. And the company’s various streaming devices and smart TVs will also get access to updated theme packs to add a bit more variety to your menus and home screen. Those theme packs showed up in version 9.3, but this update adds some sound effects to enhance the experience.

Hands-On With Roku OS 9.4: HBO Max via AirPlay and Speed Improvements Tested | Cord Cutters News

Despite having a Roku smart TV (first ever for us, btw, our son has had one for awhile) and having a separate Roku 3 device, we have been using the new Chromecast TV lately instead. Like that it seems to do a little better job searching across all streaming platforms, like JustWatch.com. It’s not quite as effective as that tool and a part of me roots for Roku to get it together.

Roku should have had comprehensive multi-platform streaming voice search working a long time ago. I think they got a little too tied up in advertising and selling viewer eyeballs and less focused on improving the technology. This is dangerous in the tech sector if you take your eye off innovating too much, somebody else comes in and pulls the rug beneath your business (and later buys you out).

The other part of Roku that bugs me is not cutting a deal with HBO Max yet.

The news earlier today that HBO Max and Amazon finally reached a deal for their Fire tablets and sticks is encouraging..

Sure, we can blame WarnerMedia/HBO, but Roku should have gotten the deal done for their customers. If you visit the Roku support forums you’ll see many others with this same perspective. If you develop your business plan as an aggregator, your job is to work with as many streamers as possible. I can understand limiting some types of content, perhaps the hardcore adult stuff needs to be segregated into password protected areas and for legal reasons, but there is no reason not to have a major mainstream streaming channel like HBO Max not working on day one. Here we are many months later and still no functionality, save for a small few workarounds. Unacceptable.

Going to try and keep happy thoughts on this one that Roku gets this done very soon. WarnerMedia seemed fairly confident it would happen by year end. That’s going to be here soon…

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