Roku adds voice commands, finally rivaling one of Android TV’s best features

Roku is one of the biggest TV platforms in the US with a good portion of its success coming from a barebones, simple offering. Now, with Roku OS v9.3, the platform is adding wide support for voice commands, something Google’s Android TV has offered for years.

In a press release this week, Roku reveals what’s new in v9.3 of its platform. This update is heavily centric on voice commands for Roku devices, something the platform has lacked for quite a long time while other platforms have offered the feature.

What can Roku’s voice commands do? In both English and Spanish — starting in the US and Mexico — Roku can search for content, start shows or movies in select apps, and even search for actors and actresses with a new visual search interface. Using voice, Roku users can also say “play the news” to launch streams of their preferred news channels.

With these new voice command features, Roku finally closes the gap on Google’s Android TV in this area. With the integration of Google Assistant on the platform since 2017, Android TV has been able to offer almost identical voice commands to what Roku is offering in OS v9.3, but with more functions such as controlling smart home devices. Notably, Amazon’s Fire TV platform has also offered similar voice functions using Alexa.

roku voice support

Beyond the new commands, Roku is also updating its mobile app with this update, expanding Google Assistant and Alexa integration to more countries (Canada, Mexico and the UK), and expanding “Roku Voice” to Canada, Ireland, and the UK.

Roku OS v9.3 arrives on the company’s own players starting in April. After that, Roku TV models such as those sold by TCL and Hisense will start getting the update “over the coming months.”

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