Let’s Update To Roku OS 10.5 To See What Happens…. What Could Go Wrong?

During the holidays I posted a story about Roku users being irate at upgrading to Roku OS 10.5 and having issues after upgrading to Roku OS 10.5. Specially with HomeKit, AirPlay, among other functionality. Since I am the sort that loves to dive into stuff like this, I decided to dive head first into this by upgrading to Roku OS 10.5, seeing first hand what breaks, and figure out fixes for them. My test subject was this TCL TV which was stuck on Roku OS 9.4. By “stuck” I mean that it didn’t get updates after 9.4. I suspect that’t because I was once on a Roku beta program and was never taken out of it. So I reached out to Roku via their forums and requested that they push the update to me. That finally happened last night and here’s what I found.

After the update was installed, AirPlay and HomeKit functionality broke. In the Home app the TV was listed as “no response” which meant that HomeKit could not talk to it. And attempts to AirPlay from any Mac or iPhone failed. Now there is a reset option that is inside the AirPlay and HomeKit setup screen which should nuke any previous configuration and allow you to set things up again using the Home app. But that didn’t work. Let me explain further. What should happen when you use this reset option is that it erases the previous HomeKit and AirPlay configuration and allow you to re-add the TV using the Home app via a HomeKit barcode. But what actually happens is that the configuration doesn’t appear to reset and the barcode never appears. On top of that, if you exit the HomeKit and AirPlay configuration screen and try to go back into it, that screen will then crash and then dump you back to the Home Screen of the TV.

So in short, updating to 10.5 will break HomeKit and AirPlay.

However I was able to fix this by factory resetting the TV and setting up as it it were a new TV. Which is a pretty invasive method of solving this problem. But while it’s a bit of a pain, it’s really not that bad. Largely because all your Roku channels automatically download to the TV when you do this. From there, I was able to set up HomeKit and AirPlay in a few minutes and everything worked fine. Though one oddity that I noticed was that after setting things up, the TV showed up twice with two different names when I went looking for AirPlay targets. One was the name that I gave it when I set it up. The other was the model number of the TV. I rebooted the TV and this went away.

Now let me get onto my soapbox for a second. Having to do a factory reset to fix AirPlay and HomeKit isn’t cool. This is the sort of thing that should have been caught in testing and either resolved, or a far less invasive solution should to fix this should have been devised so that users don’t have to do a factory reset.

Now that I’m off the soapbox, let me highlight the rest of my testing:

  • I have a PC plugged into the TV via HDMI, and it lost its ability to output audio to the TV. When I investigated, I found that the audio output was switched to the computer and not the HDMI port. That was weird. And multiple reboots of the computer left me unable to replicate the problem.
  • I have a Roku StreamBar that I use as a sound bar for the TV. Prior to this update, when you played a video from one of the Roku channels, volume would start out low and then suddenly increase. Since the update, this does not happen.

My take on this is as follows. Anyone who upgrades (or more accurately is forced to upgrade as Roku controls the upgrade process) to Roku OS 10.5 should be prepared to deal with some issues. Specifically around HomeKit and AirPlay based on my testing. My experience shows that these issues can be overcome with a factory reset. But that may not be everyone’s experience. And to be frank, you shouldn’t have to factory reset hardware after you update the software that runs it. Hopefully future updates don’t have issues like the ones that I described. But in the here and now, Roku users should be prepared for a bit of pain.

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