Roku OS 11 Revealed: Here's What's New

Today, Roku announced the next version of its smart streaming operating system, Roku OS 11. Though it'll be a few more weeks before the update starts rolling out to devices – the company has only said it will start arriving on Roku players, Roku TV, and peripherals in "the coming weeks" – we've already gotten a look at what to expect. 

Chief among the additions, it seems, is a new feature called Roku Photo Streams. Essentially, Photo Streams turns your TV into something of a digital picture frame, showing user-made galleries of images as screensavers when the TV isn't in use. Roku says users will be able to upload the photos they want to use via desktop or smartphone and create the galleries that will then be used for Roku Photo Streams. They can even be collaborative galleries, as users can share their Photo Streams with others, who can then add photos of their own.

In addition to Photo Streams, Roku is including several improvements to Roku Audio in OS 11. We'll see a slate of sound modes added to Roku Streambars and speakers, with the usual suspects – standard, dialogue, movie, music, and night mode – all present and accounted for. Those who have a Streambar or player paired with the Roku app will now be able to use Roku's A/V Sync feature with those, while Roku audio products are also getting new speech clarity modes that amplify dialogue when toggled on.

What else is new in Roku OS 11?

There are also new content discovery features shipping along with Roku OS 11. The Roku Home Menu will be getting a new category called "What to Watch" that surfaces personalized recommendations along with movies and TV shows that have proven popular with other Roku users. The Home Menu will also be getting a Live TV category that shows free live channels along with content from subscription services like Hulu, Sling, and YouTube TV, among others.

We'll also see expanded support for Roku's Voice Keyboard, which will gain support for Spanish, German, and Portuguese, but those will probably have somewhat limited usage since the voice-enabled keyboards are mostly used for first-time setup and logins from third-party apps. Last but not least, Roku says its mobile app will be getting something of an overhaul that shows more visual information when browsing movies and TV shows. It sounds like most of the improvements will be centered around showing viewers where a movie or show is available to stream and how much it costs (or if it's available for free with ads) at a glance.

With all of that added up, we've certainly got an exciting OS update on our hands. Look for Roku OS 11 to roll out to Roku devices in the weeks to come.