Significant Roku interface refresh on the way

Dave Zatz —  September 17, 2016

Via Cord Cutters News

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8 responses to Significant Roku interface refresh on the way

  1. Not clear if this is only for channel/app developers or if this will also be reflected in the main menus. I assume both…

  2. Will this coincide with the release of the five new Roku boxes?

  3. Almost assuredly.

  4. I’ve been noticing lately, maybe because I’m using the Roku a lot more right now, how dated/clumsy some of the apps on the Roku are. HBO GO in particular is a much worse user experience than on other platforms.

    I’ve had a Roku 3, with hardwired ethernet for a while which I used occasionally and was reasonably happy with, especially for the headphone jack in the remote feature for the bedroom.

    Recently I got a TCL Roku TV for the summer place. My opinion of Roku has gone down considerably. First, there is a bug that it won’t connect to wifi if the WPA2-PSK key has a comma in it. It’s an open bug, I’ve been waiting two months to hear back from Roku on it. Rather than change every other device, I’ve added a separate (virtual) access point, with a 2nd SSID and password, just for the Roku TV.

    Worse, on power up if they TV has problems connecting to wifi, it crashes and reboots, (screen goes blank, logo comes back up, few second pause until it finishes booting.)

    Starting to wonder about the viability of the current Roku software platform.

    Hopefully they will do a little more under the covers to make things more stable and give it parity with other devices.

  5. There’s a lot I like about Roku (mainly, their huge library of apps and their content provider neutrality when it comes to universal search results) but their ugly cookie-cutter app UI has been a weak spot for awhile now. Glad to see they’re taking steps to update it. The article seems to be talking about changes to the way content is presented inside apps but, as Dave says, I’m hoping we’ll see updates to the Roku menu UI too. Their current emphasis on individual apps (with the ability to place them in the grid wherever you like) is fine, but I think there needs to be some presentation of content on the homescreen too, maybe a row of recommendations from across favorite apps (like Android TV has) or, even better, a row of recent searches or saved searches, which could act like a universal watchlist. Maybe that would be an evolution of their current “My Feed” feature.

    I do wonder if there’s going to be some improvement to the underlying Roku OS code too, to make it a more robust platform. My understanding is that it is not up to par with Apple’s tvOS or Android TV and that its weaknesses limit what developers can do. I also wonder, long-term, if Roku will be disadvantaged without some kind of top-notch natural language AI built-in since Apple TV has Siri, Fire TV has Alexa and I presume Android TV will gain the upcoming Google Assistant.

  6. Chris from Roku Dev Community here – these are just developer sample channels and nothing to do with Roku’s UI. Developers can use XML to design any interface for a Roku channel. Our hope is that channel’s can design then implement the logic in BrightScript.

    Please read the original blog post if there was confusion: https://blog.roku.com/developer/2016/09/19/september-updates-16/

    Thanks!

    @ctraganos

  7. Thank you for the clarification, although it looks Cord Cutters News beat your post by two days, so… :) I assume some of these new presentations and approaches would make their way (or originate) with the Roku home screen. But perhaps not.

  8. No worries – the cordcutter post was odd to not link to the original source post, perhaps it was written from the screenshots alone? We had written that post about a week back.

    While these are all samples our developer relations team built for helping understand our framework – my hope is that channels will start pushing the envelope for building great experiences for TV.

    Here’s some more samples: https://github.com/rokudev/sample-channels