In September, alongside the debut of the Roku Premiere and Premiere+, Roku also announced that it was planning to add support for Google Assistant, which should help the company fend off increasingly stiff competition from Amazon. The feature now is available on some Roku streaming devices and TVs, and included in the new Roku OS 9 for Roku devices, and Roku OS 8.2 for Roku TVs.
The two new OS versions bring some other features too, including support for the premium version of Pandora and Spotify (including Spotify Connect compatibility), automatic volume leveling, and the ability to perform voice searches specifically for free content. That last feature is clearly aimed at highlighting the content available within Roku’s free, ad-supported Roku Channel.
Alongside the previously released Google Assistant functionality, Spotify premium has now officially relaunched on compatible Roku devices, allowing listeners to stream their favorite new music to their TV with ease. To get Spotify to play on your Roku, simply download the Spotify app. Users can use Spotify connect to play their favorite tracks from their phone, tablet, or computer, and have it immediately play on Roku.
So far, everything is rolling out just as Roku said it would.
“In the coming weeks,” a September press release stated, “you’ll be able to use Google Assistant devices to control select Roku streaming devices to pause and search for content and launch channels.” Roku TV users will also be able to control TV power, volume level, mute, input switching, and channels changes — if there is an over-the-air (OTA) antenna connected.
This news came amid rumors that Amazon is planning a free content-streaming service to compete with the Roku Channel. In the past, there have been some clever workarounds for getting Google Assistant and Alexa to work with Roku, but this marks the first time Roku has delivered official support for a third-party A.I. voice product.
To get Google Assistant on your Roku, you’ll need the Google Home app. In the settings, under Home Control, select the option to add a device and you should see “Roku.” If your device is compatible, you should be up and running in just a few minutes. Now you’ll be able to use commands like “Hey Google, launch The Roku Channel on Roku” or “Hey Google, pause my Roku.”
Roku TV users who also have a set of Roku TV wireless speakers will get a new feature called Speech Clarity. When turned on, it looks for voice frequencies and “boosts them to address intelligibility.”
Unfortunately, some Roku users may have to wait a while before issuing commands to their TVs. The new software is rolling out very slowly, with some Roku devices not expected to get the update until the first quarter of 2019.
Updated on November 1, 2018: Edited to add that Spotify is now available on some devices.