Palms-On With Roku OS 9.4: HBO Max through AirPlay and Velocity Enhancements Examined

Hands-On With Roku OS 9.4: HBO Max via AirPlay and Speed Improvements Tested

Again in September, we bought phrase of a new replace headed to Roku units. Roku OS 9.Four promised some attention-grabbing new options — and potential efficiency enhancements, so we have been wanting ahead to updating our gear to discover. And this month, we’ve been trying out model 9.Four on a number of in-house Roku units to see what’s new. Interested in pace boosts and probably watching, say, HBO Max in your Roku gadget? Learn on!

Updating Your Roku Gadget to OS 9.4

Roku OS 9.Four has been rolling out lately and the best method to examine in case your gadget is up-to-date is to move into the Settings menu, scroll over to System, and choose System Replace. Click on on the Test Now button to see if any new OS or app updates can be found.. If there are, you would possibly see your gadget restart and then you definately’ll be introduced again to your private home display.

What About New Options?

Roku OS 9.Four presents up some attention-grabbing new options, however a few of these will rely upon what sort of Roku gadget you’re utilizing. General, Roku is promising improved efficiency throughout units, together with sooner startup occasions, load occasions for prime channels, and extra. And the corporate’s varied streaming units and sensible TVs can even get entry to up to date theme packs so as to add a bit extra selection to your menus and residential display. These theme packs confirmed up in model 9.3, however this replace provides some sound results to reinforce the expertise. You’ll be able to take a look at our video preview above to listen to a few of these results in motion.

Underneath the ocean. Replace your private home display. With a couple of new themes. Underneath the ocean.

You’ll additionally see hints pop up at occasions reminding you of options like voice instructions you could possibly be utilizing along with your gadget. OS 9.Four additionally introduces a function that’s at present marked as Beta, as in not fairly prepared for prime time. This function provides voice entry for supported on-screen keyboards. If an app’s keyboard helps the brand new function, you’ll see a microphone icon displayed. In the event you click on on it, you need to be capable of maintain down your distant’s microphone button to talk your command as a substitute of typing it. As we talked about, Roku labels this a beta function for now, but it surely’s wanting so as to add extra keyboard help sooner or later.

Roku TV customers get entry to The Roku Channel’s Stay TV information straight from the house display. And people of you leveraging antennas for over-the-air content material can even get entry to a mixed information that merges each free OTA content material and free streaming choices in a single information. Nonetheless, you’ll even have the choice of filtering the information if, say, you’d somewhat simply see OTA-only channels.

If that sounds acquainted, we’ve reported on Roku experimenting with this function earlier within the 12 months, but it surely’s now again through OS 9.4.

In the event you’ve bought a multi-channel Roku audio setup, OS 9.Four provides you extra fine-grained management to regulate and stability audio ranges amongst your varied audio system.

Placing Efficiency Claims to the Check

In its bulletins about OS 9.4, Roku’s touted efficiency enhancements together with sooner startup occasions and app loading. And we have been undoubtedly wanting ahead to testing these claims.

For these unfamiliar with our testing methodology: We time every gadget to see how rapidly it may load a collection of well-liked apps in a row. And we take a look at each a minimum of 3 times via your complete suite of apps to get a mean time to match in opposition to different units.

And for this spherical of assessments, our suite consisted of Netflix, YouTube, Prime Video, Disney Plus, Hulu, ESPN, Pluto TV, The Roku Channel, and the Roku Suggestions and Trick Channel. After which we fired up Netflix as soon as extra on the finish to see if it may load any sooner the second time via.

As for our outcomes, right here’s how a 2020 Roku Extremely fared with the newest replace. Again after we first reviewed the brand new Extremely, on OS 9.3, it scored the quickest time but amongst our Roku units, with an total common of 66.63 seconds. And with 9.Four put in, the general common is now even sooner at 63.59 seconds.

We additionally examined the lower-end Roku Specific to see what OS 9.Four may do. The Specific posted an total time of 123.07 seconds in our authentic Roku vs. Roku faceoff. And with 9.Four loaded, the Specific clocked in a formidable 101.61 seconds, a big enchancment over its earlier occasions.

So sure, it seems to be Roku OS 9.Four ought to certainly provide efficiency enhancements with regards to app launch occasions. After all, your mileage might fluctuate, particularly in case your favourite apps differ tremendously from these in our take a look at suite, however the total enhancements are encouraging.

Attempting our AirPlay 2 with HBO Max

Together with model 9.4, Roku additionally introduced help for Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit on sure 4K Roku units. To recap, AirPlay 2 permits customers to stream and share content material on their Roku gadget straight from their iPhone, iPad, or different Apple {hardware}. And HomeKit help enables you to management your Roku gadget features through Apple’s House app on iPhones, iPads and Macs.

In case your gadget is up-to-date and supported, you need to see an possibility within the Settings menu for Apple AirPlay & HomeKit. From there, you possibly can customise settings like requiring a passcode for related units. And in your Apple units, you need to see the AirPlay icon on suitable media. Clicking that icon ought to deliver up AirPlay-capable gear, together with your Roku gadget. Simply choose it and you need to begin listening to or seeing your content material in your TV.

In case you’re questioning, that does certainly open the door to enjoying content material in your Roku gadget that will or is probably not out there through native apps. And that features providers like, say, HBO Max.

We examined the streaming service on one in all our Roku Ultras and it was straightforward to load the HBO Max app on our iPhone, join through AirPlay and have that content material working on our TV. It is probably not fairly as handy as a devoted Roku app, however for these on the lookout for workarounds till WarnerMedia and Roku make peace, that is among the many simpler routes.

A Observe on Supported Gadgets

And in case you’re questioning if you happen to’re gadget will obtain OS 9.4, right here’s the checklist of supported units.

The corporate additionally expects model 9.Four to return to all fashions of Roku TV. In the event you’re uncertain which mannequin you at present have, yow will discover that information within the Settings Menu, beneath System after which the About menu.

General, Roku OS 9.Four brings with it some welcome enhancements and a few attention-grabbing new capabilities on supported units. In the event you haven’t performed so already, be happy to discover, check out the brand new voice options, and possibly stream some content material through AirPlay. And you’ll want to take a look at our video on the replace to study much more concerning the new replace.

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