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Media Streamers

Roku eases sign-in with Hulu, Sling TV, dresses up search results, bolsters voice

Roku software update 9.1 is rolling out to streamers starting today and Roku TVs in early summer.

rokusearchaction

Better results by category are coming with the latest Roku software update.

Roku

Roku users, get ready to see some minor upgrades on your TVs and streamers.

In a blog post Tuesday the company outlined upgrades in its latest free software update, version 9.1, which adds a selection of incremental tweaks and conveniences to Roku streamers and Roku TVs. 

Owners of streamers like the Roku Express and Roku Streaming Stick Plus will get the update in the coming weeks starting today, while Roku TV owners will see them in early summer. Here's what to expect:

Categorized search results: Currently, searching by categories such as "action movies" or "comedies" presents a text-based list of uncategorized results. After the update some category results will be presented with thumbnail art and broken down into sections like "new releases" and "free" (see above).

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Autoplay on Roku Channel voice search results: If you use voice to search for a show or movie that's available on the Roku Channel, the company's free-to-watch collection, it will automatically begin playing, as opposed to just displaying search results. So will shows and movies from the premium subscriptions inside the Roku Channel, such as HBO.

New voice commands: Roku's own voice system will support commands for "replay" (goes back a few seconds) and "turn closed captions on/off" (mistakenly enabled captions are a common issue). It will also add "turn display off" for Roku TVs, allowing the TV's screen to go dark while music keeps playing in apps such as Pandora, iHeartRadio and TuneIn.

Sign in-across Roku devices: With a handful of apps, including Hulu, Sling TV and Pandora, signing into one Roku device will automatically sign you into all of the others associated with that Roku account. Roku says it has "nearly 10 subscription streaming services" on board and expects to add more soon.

My Offers: Roku will add a section to the home screen with discounts on Roku hardware and other offers. The company didn't specify whether that option could be hidden, like it allows with some similar sections like Featured Free and the Fandango Movie and TV stores.

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