Archive for Roku

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

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 7, 2022 by itnerd

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.

Roku Users Livid As Roku OS 10.5 Breaks HomeKit, AirPlay, & More…. And No Fix Is In Sight

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 18, 2021 by itnerd

Hell hath no fury like a scorned Apple user. And a situation where Roku drops Roku OS 10.5 on Roku device owners, which then promptly breaks HomeKit support and AirPlay support illustrates this. Reports of this can be found on Roku’s own forums and Reddit, and what makes matters worse is that Roku’s support people appear to have completely lost the plot by seemingly providing rather useless troubleshooting advice. That has led to lots of people being beyond mad. And take it from me, getting Apple users mad is the last thing that a company should ever do. But the problems extend beyond Apple users. Another thread on Roku’s own forums as well as a story on TechCrunch illustrate that 10.5 breaks other functionality.

To be fair to Roku is allowing users to roll back to Roku OS 10.0 which works fine. But this was being handled on a one to one basis rather than the company simply rolling back all Roku users to a stable version that works. At least until TechCrunch posted their story. All of a sudden these instructions appeared to allow users to roll back to a stable version. What’s interesting about this post is that this problem supposedly affects “A small portion of users”. Many of whom if you browse their forums complain about silence from the company when it comes to these issues. Which when a company does that, is never, ever going to end well for said company.

This is the time of year where people buy a lot of electronics including new TVs. And if someone uses the search engine of their choice to find out what the best brand of TV is for their money, I am pretty sure that they will find lots of complaints about Westinghouse, TCL, Sharp and Hisense TVs that are powered by Roku OS. Which means that sales of Westinghouse, TCL, Sharp and Hisense TVs will likely take a dive. Because people will just avoid Roku powered TVs and make a move towards Android TV products.

The bottom line is that Roku released a version of their OS that is buggy, buggy, buggy. And now their users are paying the price. There’s no end to this in sight, and the lack of real, detailed, and honest communication is hurting Roku’s cause. Frankly, the longer this goes on, the more likely that Roku who sells more streaming devices than anyone else is going to lose that marketshare to others such as Google. And they will only have themselves to blame.

YouTube And Roku Settle Their Differences

Posted in Commentary with tags , on December 8, 2021 by itnerd

You might recall that Roku and YouTube have been involved in a pretty bitter fight that if they didn’t sort their differences out, the YouTube app may disappear from the Roku platform. And in fact it did. And things escalated from there.

Well, I have some news for you. They’ve settled their differences via a multi-year deal:

“This agreement represents a positive development for our shared customers, making both YouTube and YouTube TV available for all streamers on the Roku platform,” Dallas Lawrence, a Roku spokesperson, wrote in an email to The Verge. Google confirmed the deal to The Verge and said both apps will be available through the Roku store.

The deal ends a pretty bitter fight that I hope isn’t repeated as when two big companies get into a fight, users lose.

Roku To Close Loophole That Allowed Porn On Its Platform

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 5, 2021 by itnerd

Roku has announced a new ‘Independent Developer Kit’ and a new beta channel feature to replace existing tools like private channels. The former is a way for developers and hobbyists to experiment with apps and services without needing to use Roku’s software development kit (SDK), while the latter will allow developers to test channels with up to 20 users at a time. Private channels had another function. It let companies like PornHub put porn out of the platform.

The rollout of the ‘Independent Developer Kit’ effectively closes this loophole according to Protocol and The Verge. And those who use their Roku’s to watch porn have until March 2022 to get their fix. Thus if that’s you, consider yourself warned.

Roku And Google Spat Goes Down To The Wire…. And Users May Lose Out

Posted in Commentary with tags , on October 21, 2021 by itnerd

You might recall that Google And Roku got into a fight over the YouTube TV App on the Roku platform due to what Roku calls Google’s “predatory” and “monopoly” behavior: That led to the YouTube TV App being yanked from Roku’s app store. Google then added the YouTube TV app to the main YouTube app to get around this. But this is about to get real. Axios reports that if this goes on until December 9th, the YouTube app will disappear from the Roku App store as that’s when their current deal expires. If you have it installed, it will remain. But if you delete it, or if you didn’t have it in the first place, you won’t be able get it. Thus users lose as is usually the case where two companies get into a fight like this.

Roku lays out the reasons why they’re taking on Google here. But it seems really odd to me why this fight is going on in the first place. Roku by far is the dominant player in the streaming hardware space. Thus logic would suggest that Google would have a lot to lose by being on the wrong side of this. But I guess we’ll see who blinks first. If either party blinks at all.

Survey On Streaming Shows Industry has Passed a “Tipping Point”: Roku

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 6, 2021 by itnerd

Content producers, advertisers, and marketers take note, TV streaming popularity continues to rise with 4 in 5 Canadians classifying themselves as TV streamers (versus 3 in 4 who pay for traditional TV), according to The Streaming Decade survey released today by Roku, Inc. (NASDAQ: ROKU). The annual survey provides insights into consumer TV viewing behaviors and preferences, and how the pandemic accelerated the ongoing shift to TV streaming.

The Streaming Decade survey also revealed that content such as new movie releases (72 per cent), and sports (68 per cent) is a key reason Canadians would try a new streaming service. As well, the ease-of-use, cost-savings, and content quality of TV streaming was shown to have extremely broad, intergenerational appeal among Canadian consumers.

The report also highlights generational differences between TV streaming behaviour, with 98 percent of Gen Z’s; 96 per cent of Millennials; 86 per cent of Gen X’s, and 68 per cent of Boomers using more TV streaming services in the past year.

Additional key stats from the survey:

  • 40 per cent of streaming Boomers added more TV streaming services in the past year
  • 72 per cent of consumers say having access to a new movie release is a key reason they would try a new service
  • More than 8 in 10 Canadians agree that one of the biggest factors when deciding whether to try a new streaming service is if it offers free and paid subscription tiers
  • 42 per cent of TV streamers have ad-supported service
  • 1 in 3 sports viewing audiences watch sports via TV streaming

Full survey results can be found here, and please visit their blog for additional insights and commentary on the results. 

Roku Unveils “Ok, Roku does that.” TV Streaming Campaign

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 5, 2021 by itnerd

Roku today unveiled its “Ok, Roku does that.” TV streaming leadership campaign in Canada building on the momentum of new product launches as we enter the holiday season. With nearly half (46 per cent) of Canadian TV streamers signing up for new streaming services in the past 12 months, the “Ok, Roku does that” campaign highlights the TV streaming platform for the innovation, ease of use, and simplicity it offers TV lovers in a broad advertising campaign across TV streaming, traditional pay TV, out-of-home, and social media marketing in Canada.

The hero of the campaign is a 60 second creative look back in time. Over the course of history, seemingly simple innovations have transformed the world and how people navigate it. The launch commercial moves through a short history of transformative innovations; culminating in the decade of streaming. Sometimes the best ideas are often the simplest. Like streaming made easy — this was the inspiration behind “Ok, Roku does that.”

Additional video advertisements are focused on driving awareness for Roku TV™ models. Roku TV models offer a simplified aesthetic in a home theater as all they require is power and a Wi-Fi connection and they are incredibly easy to set up and use, from the tech savvy to the novice, and continuously improve over time with regular software updates. Features highlighted include private listening, and the vast amount of free content available on The Roku Channel.

Out-of-home and social media campaign elements will play on the same theme as “Ok, Roku does that.” and be on display in major cities around the country including Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. Roku will also use OneView™, their ad buying platform built for TV streaming, to manage the digital portion of the campaign across desktop, mobile, and TV streaming.

The objective of the campaign is to create long term brand awareness for Roku and future streamers as consumers begin to think about holiday spending. The Roku State of Canadian Streaming survey finds half of Canadian streamers (50 per cent) reported using three or more streaming services, a six per cent increase year-over-year which underpins the timeliness of the “Ok, Roku does that.” campaign. 

For more information visit the Roku blog.

TV Streaming In Canada Accelerates With Ages 55+ Seeing Largest Surge In Adoption

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 9, 2021 by itnerd

Canadian TV streaming continues to grow, offering new opportunities for advertisers, marketers, and content producers. The pandemic has only accelerated this growth, with nearly half (46 per cent), of Canadian TV streamers having signed up for a new streaming service in the last 12 months, according to Roku’s The State of Canadian Streaming Report.

The annual report examining Canadian TV streaming behaviour and trends also found that advertising video on demand (AVOD) popularity is also growing, with Canadian’s time spent with AVOD increasing year-over-year (51 per cent of Canadian TV streamers watch AVOD), allowing advertisers and brands to engage with customers in a more targeted, and measurable way.

Recently, Roku also launched 27 new Live TV channels, all for free for users on the Roku Channel, offering service to cord cutters who otherwise do not have access to traditional media they’ve paid for in the past. Roku continues to update free offerings with Live TV channels, original content like Cypher and the introduction of Roku Originals, creating content with Hollywood’s biggest stars that can be viewed for no additional cost.

The full report can be downloaded here, and additional stats from the report are below:

  • 46 per cent of Canadian TV streamers have signed up for a new streaming service in the last 12 months
  • Canadian’s time spent with Advertising Based Video on Demand (AVOD) such as the Roku Channel has increased by five per cent year-over-year to 2.3 hours total viewing TV time per week
  • 51 per cent of Canadian TV streamers watch AVOD

I have to admit that in my house, My wife and I have spent a lot more time streaming content on my TCL TV that is Roku powered. And Roku’s free channels are helping with that. The only exception is the recent Olympics which we’ve watch on traditional TV. So clearly Roku is onto something here.

Google Adds YouTube TV Channel To Main App To Get Around Roku Related Dispute… Get Ready For Vengeance From Roku

Posted in Commentary with tags , on May 7, 2021 by itnerd

You might remember that Google and Roku were in a dispute over the YouTube TV channel that Roku has characterized as an anti-trust dispute. Then Roku pulled the YouTube TV app from Roku’s their store. To get around this, it appears that Google has added a new “Go to YouTube TV” option within the primary YouTube app on Roku which remains available to download on the streaming platform. In short, Google has put the YouTube TV channel into the YouTube channel. And by extension, they’ve now basically dared Roku to pull the main YouTube channel. The Verge has additional details:

In essence, Google has basically stuffed the YouTube TV app into YouTube itself, a solution that seems unlikely to make Roku very happy. Google says it’s “still working to come to an agreement with Roku to ensure continued access to YouTube TV for our mutual customers,” and it notes the YouTube TV app remains usable for those who already have it installed.

But in the event that things totally fall apart, Google says it’s “in discussions with other partners to secure free streaming devices in case YouTube TV members face any access issues on Roku.” A Google spokesperson told The Verge that this workaround is only for consumption of YouTube TV; customers cannot sign up for new subscriptions through the YouTube app at this time.

Roku had this to say:

Google’s actions are the clear conduct of an unchecked monopolist bent on crushing fair competition and harming consumer choice. The bundling announcement by YouTube highlights the kind of predatory business practices used by Google that Congress, Attorney Generals and regulatory bodies around the world are investigating. Roku has not asked for one additional dollar in financial value from YouTubeTV. We have simply asked Google to stop their anticompetitive behavior of manipulating user search results to their unique financial benefit and to stop demanding access to sensitive data that no other partner on our platform receives today. In response, Google has continued its practice of blatantly leveraging its YouTube monopoly to force an independent company into an agreement that is both bad for consumers and bad for fair competition.

It now seems that this dispute has gone nuclear. And I’ll be watching for the mushroom clouds.

Roku Yanks YouTube TV App From Their App Store

Posted in Commentary with tags , on May 1, 2021 by itnerd

You might remember that I recently wrote about Roku and YouTube getting into a fight related to what Roku calls Google’s “predatory” and “monopoly” behavior. YouTube gave the world a hint as to what was to come on Friday via Twitter:

I can now confirm Roku has yanked the YouTube TV off their store. If you have it installed, don’t uninstall it. And I should note that the standard YouTube app still is available.

Let’s see if YouTube and Roku work out their differences, or this escalates further.