In September, Roku announced the next version of its TV operating system, Roku OS 9.4, would introduce support for Apple’s AirPlay 2 and HomeKit. This morning, the company says these features have now rolled out across a number of its 4K Roku devices, including the Roku Ultra, Roku Streambar, Roku Smart Soundbar, Roku Streaming Stick+, and Roku Premiere. The update will arrive on 4K Roku TV next.
With the added support for AirPlay 2, Roku device owners will be able to stream content from their iPhone, iPad or Mac to their Roku — whether that’s personal content from their own library or from other streaming apps that also support AirPlay 2.
This could be a useful feature in the case that a new streaming service doesn’t launch an app for Roku devices or threatens to pull an existing app off Roku as a negotiating tactic in licensing deals, as NBCU did.
These moves by streaming services ultimately hurt Roku customers, so the option to stream content from a supported device, like an iPhone, would help lessen the blow.
For example, HBO Max is currently withholding its app from Roku devices, so the new ability to stream via AirPlay 2 is a nice workaround. But this will also require HBO Max to continue to support AirPlay 2 on iOS going forward.
In addition to AirPlay 2, Roku OS 9.4 will bring support for HomeKit, which allows Roku owners to control their device using the Home app and Siri on their iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and HomePod.
Other changes that arrive with 9.4 include a new “Live TV” tile to the home screen, featuring a live guide to The Roku Channel’s over 115 free live channels, as well as features to help users learn how to use voice commands, and updated theme packs that now include optional sounds.