Google partners with Roku to bring Google Assistant to more set-top boxes

Roku announced a bunch of new features and hardware, but Google Assistant integration might be the coolest

Digital media platform Roku has announced that users in the coming weeks will be able to control their Roku set-top boxes and televisions with Google Assistant voice commands.

There isn’t much information available regarding Google Assistant integration, but the company says users will be able to play/pause, search, and launch Roku channels on select devices.

On Roku televisions, Google Assistant will also be able to control volume, inputs and change channels if there’s an over-the-air antenna connected.

Roku said that Assistant integration should be coming in a few weeks, but there’s no solid release date as of yet.

The streaming hardware manufacturer also announced two new versions of its operating system.

Roku OS 8.2 is beginning to roll out now for Roku televisions, while Roku OS 9 for set-top boxes is set to arrive in November 2018.

The first update gets the company’s television hardware ready for the newly announced Roku Speakers. The speakers aren’t available in Canada yet, but MobileSyrup has reached out to find out if they’re coming and how much they’ll cost.

Roku OS 8.2 also comes with a few neat features like Automatic Volume Levelling, Speech Clarity and the Spotify app.

Automatic audio is Roku’s answer to loud opening credits and commercials. The new software can make all the sounds hit a uniform volume, and at night it can even lower the sound of noisy scenes a few notches.

Speech Clarity is another feature that helps define words and conversations. The function detects vocal frequencies and it intelligently boosts them so users don’t miss any dialogue.

For the time being, these features only work on Roku TVs that are paired with Roku Speakers.

The only new feature in Roku OS 8.2 that doesn’t seem to require Roku Speakers is the re-launch of Spotify.

According to the Verge, Spotify removed its app from Roku devices because the app didn’t meet the Swedish audio streaming giant’s own high standards. Over a year, later Spotify is set to return to Roku’s platform.

The new version of the app functions similarly to how it does on Xbox One and PS4. It has one screen full of recommendations and another with songs from the user’s library. It’s a cool app, but I often find myself just using Spotify Connect on my Xbox, since it isn’t the most straightforward app to navigate.

When it launches, Roku OS 9 will bring Automatic Volume Levelling and Spotify to conventional Roku devices along with a new feature called “Free Genre Voice Search.

The feature lets users add the keyword ‘free’ before some voice search terms like ‘movies,’ ‘TV shows’ or ‘sitcoms’ and Roku will only show content related to the keyword that users can watch for free.

Roku OS 9 will also come to Roku television, but not until the company’s first quarter in 2019.

Roku often waits an undetermined amount of time to launch its products and services in Canada.

MobileSyrup has reached out to Roku for additional information.

Source: Roku Via: The Verge